Suzie Brown CD Release Show
Sarah Blacker, Amy Black
3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM
This event is all ages
Though it’s been only five years since she penned her first and four since she made her debut with the five-song EP “Side Streets,” it’s hard for Suzie Brown to imagine a time when she wasn’t writing and performing songs. Music feels like a second skin.
That doesn’t mean the Harvard-trained cardiologist has given up medicine, but as she prepares for the October release of her sophomore album, “Almost There,” the Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter continues to carve out her place in the rich Folk/Americana tradition. The entirely fan-funded album, which was produced in Nashville’s Sound Emporium studio by Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers), showcases the gift for unforgettable melodies and evocative lyrics that Brown brought to “Heartstrings,” her acclaimed 2011 full-length debut.
But it also reveals an artist increasingly in command of her craft. Brown and her in-studio band (including Grammy Award winner Scot Sax on guitar, Jano Rix of The Wood Brothers on drums, organ and piano, Oliver Wood on guitar and background vocals, James “Hags” Haggerty on bass, and Jim Hoke on pedal steel and horns) recorded the album live in seven days. The result is an elegant yet unvarnished yet 11-song collection that harks back to the recordings of influences like Bonnie Raitt, Patty Griffin and, of course, The Wood Brothers.
“As Oliver said about The Wood Brothers recordings, they like to leave the warts on,” says Brown. “It just translates into a more emotional and real sound. It makes you feel the music.”
Nowhere is that more evident on tracks like “Almost There”, a cleverly spun meditation on the yearning for some goal always beyond our reach, “Fallen Down,” a spare and aching lament for the lives stolen in the Connecticut school shooting, “Space Between,” a haunting yet ultimately redeeming portrait of the battles that wear love down and “Don’t Know if I Dare,” a delicate moment of striking vulnerability in which Brown splays her doubts and fears in the face of genuine love. Elsewhere, she is breezy and playful, serving up a wry dose of cautious affection on the retro country-rock of “Receipt for Love,” turning love’s departure into sweet elegy on the bluesy, reggae-tinged “Sugar Blues” and reveling in the giddy joys of love in “Everywhere I Go”.
The songs all bear an autobiographical imprint.
“I write songs to process my life, so the songs are a true reflection of what was going on during that time,” says Brown. “Music is my place to be honest about my life.”
It’s a necessary space that allows her to shake off the mantle of stoicism that comes with being a doctor. She admits it can be frustrating living a life of halves but her work at the hospital, even if part-time, suits the more ‘type-A’ part of her personality and her true affinity for helping others. Brown, the daughter of two doctors, spent 11 years training to be a top research cardiologist before the pull of music proved too powerful to ignore. She was affirmed fairly quickly in committing to it, receiving several awards, including being named a semi-finalist in the prestigious International Songwriting Competition, and having her music featured in chains such as Starbucks, Anthropologie and The Gap.
“I can’t believe that my life was ever any way other than how it is right now,” says Brown. “I can’t even imagine if I hadn’t pursued music – I would feel lost. This is who I am.”
Just recently named, Female Performer of the Year in the New England Music Awards, 2012 Boston Music Award nominee for Singer/Songwriter of the year, Sarah Blacker, was recently called "one of the brighter artists to grab our attention recently," by national Roots publication, No Depression. She is a full-time singer/songwriter on the verge of releasing her 3rd album, which has already begun receiving airtime on local NPR station, WUMB. Last year, Blacker was also nominated as New England Music Awards 'Female Performer of the Year,' and her music video for her single, 'Knocked the Winds' won runner up in the Limelight Magazine's Video of the Year, wherein she was nominated as Singer/Songwriter of the year in 2012. She was the winner of the Radio 92.9 / Boch Subaru contest and became the face and voice of their New England ad campaign for "ooh ooh it's love," NE Subaru, and was also named 'Artist of the Year' by My Rural Radio in 2011. Her song, 'Smell of Caramel,' was recently featured on the MTV show, Jersey Shore, and she was an emerging artist at the historical Falcon Ridge Folk Festival this past summer. In just under 3 years, she has garnered these accolades, performed at SXSW, CMJ and a sold-out tour of Germany, and has shared the stage with America, Rusted Root, Paula Cole, The Wood Brothers, Sara Bareilles, Jason Isbell, Carbon Leaf, Rusted Root, and Anais Mitchell to name just a few. Her entrancing voice, poignant and emotionally charged lyrics, and mature songwriting has this artist on pace to go nowhere but up.
Amy Black and her talented band present a high energy show with a mix of soul, blues, country and rock-n-roll. Amy’s third solo release, “The Muscle Shoals Sessions” (June 2015) was recorded at historic FAME studios in her family’s homeland of Muscle Shoals, AL and features Spooner Oldham, an original Muscle Shoals “Swamper”. The result was, "a blend of sultry desire, ardent passion...a sound that’s both tough and tender” (Relix). "To showcase her true potential as a bluesy, R&B heavy hitter, Amy Black had to go home. Black’s soulful chops shine.” (Elmore)
For Amy Black, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, has always held a special magic. Her parents were born there, and some of her fondest memories were made during frequent visits to both sets of grandparents. She spent so much time in “the Shoals,” it felt more like home than many of the places she’d actually lived. She even knew the local hangouts and town lore. Or thought she did.
Black remembers passing FAME Studios often; it was right on the main drag. But she had no awareness then of its musical history or impact, much less any inkling that she’d wind up making music her career. Little could she know that one day, a session with the legendary Muscle Shoals keyboardist Spooner Oldham would launch her on a journey of discovery that would give her an even deeper connection with a place she loves. After Oldham, one of Muscle Shoals’ original “Swampers” session players, was serendipitously invited to perform on her 2013 EP The Muscle Shoals Session, her interest in the sound and its story was awakened. She fell so in love — and felt so at home — with the sweet soul music he’d helped craft decades before, she expanded the EP into an entire album of Shoals classics and seamlessly blended originals.
Recording the album at FAME, Black never fails to nail the spot where gospel, blues and R&B collide — and transform into soul. Blues in Britain wrote, “Black Is blessed with a deeply soulful voice that melds elements of Dusty Springfield, Mavis Staples and Alberta Hunter.” Inspired by Etta James, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples and so many others who recorded some of modern music’s most iconic songs in this little Alabama hamlet, Black’s project pays homage to magic made at both FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, as well as to her beloved grandparents, and the cherished memories she carries of childhood sojourns.
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Dining is available at World Cafe Live. Reservations are accepted for Upstairs Live, our full service restaurant; we recommend scheduling a reservation 1½ to 2 hours before show time. Downstairs Live offers a full service bar, and a limited food menu is available for most shows. For more information, please read the Dining FAQ.
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