Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An intimate cabaret setting for Susan Werner concert

“Over the course of her colorful career, singer songwriter Susan Werner has cultivated a reputation as a daring and innovative songwriter with a killer live show. She boldly endeavors to weave old with new to create altogether new genres of music when existing ones do not suit her muse, and she regularly keeps audiences guessing and laughing simultaneously. Most of her work infuses traditional music styles and methods with her unmistakable contemporary worldview, constantly challenging listeners to experience music from a fresh and unexpected perspective.”

This great quote comes from Susan Werner’s official bio on her website, http://www.susanwerner.com/, and I feel like it really sums up my own experience seeing her in concert. I find her to be an inspiring singer songwriter whose skill and talent is impressive, but whose warmth is inviting enough to make the concert venue feel like we are all guests in her living room.

I’m delighted that the UIS performance, coming up on Friday, March 6 at 8 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, will be arranged in an intimate cabaret style. Patrons can choose to sit either at small tables or in the raked auditorium-style seating just beyond the tables. A bar will be located in the foyer of the theatre and patrons will be able to bring beverages into the venue with them. It has been several years since we presented a performance with this kind of set-up in the Studio Theatre. I have fond memories of the Eddie from Ohio concert (http://efohio.com/) and am confident we can create the same kind of atmosphere with Susan Werner’s concert.

So what can you expect from a Susan Werner concert? Well, Werner sings and plays guitar and piano, and will be joined on stage by a bass player. And her style? A quick scan through the descriptions of some of her most recent albums helps tell the story of her own musical evolution:

Classics – Released less than a month ago, this is an album of new string instrument arrangements of pop songwriter tunes from the 1960s and 1970s. Classics highlights elegance and sophistication previously overlooked in the first lives of songs like Paul Simon’s A Hazy Shade of Winter, Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology), Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed and America’s Lonely People. Ms. Werner will only be performing in a duo for the UIS performance, but she will most likely present some of these tunes with the evening’s instrumentation, and you will undoubtedly be able to pick up the album while you are here.

The Gospel Truth – This is Werner’s 2007 “agnostic gospel” album, a collection of original songs blending faith and doubt and drawing on music traditions from Folk/Bluegrass to Americana to R&B/Soul/Spiritual. It has been praised religious believers and non-believers alike across the country and earned the 2007 Top Folk Album of the Year by NPR/Folk Alley and WUMB and likely had a strong hand in Werner being named Best Contemporary Artist at the 2008 International Folk Alliance music conference.

I Can’t Be New – In this 2004 release, Werner presented her original songs written in the style of Gershwin and Cole Porter, but from a present-day woman’s point of view. I love these songs!

I hope you’ll give her a listen online http://www.susanwerner.com/ and then also in person at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 6 at the UIS Studio Theater. Tickets are available at the Sangamon Auditorium Ticket Office, 217.206.6160 or online at http://www.sangamonauditorium.org/.

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