Saturday, February 18, 2012

Suzanne Vega at Tupelo Music Hall Vermont

Suzanne Vega
Tupelo Music Hall White River Junction VT
February 17, 2012
Story and Photos by Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
Suzanne Vega, Tupelo Music Hall VT
The last time I caught Suzanne Vega in the Upper Valley, she co-headlined with  Marc Cohn at the Lebanon Opera House almost two years ago (February 5, 2010. Images)

From the internet...
A lot has happened to Vega since her break out hits "Luka" and "Tom's Diner" (the diner's exterior was used in the tv-sitcom  Seinfeld!) from the 1987 album Solitude Standing; most notably, she was dropped by her record label A&M Records and Blue Note Records, she now no longer has access to the master's recorded by these labels including "Luka" and Tom's Diner."


According to a Valley News article published February 16, 2012, Katie Beth Ryan reports that Vega wants to re-record her back catalog to gain control over these songs and has been doing just that over the last three years. She has re-released many of these songs on her won label Amanuensis (a Latin term for a manual laborer or slave--perhaps Vega is poking fun at her former labels.) As reported by Ryan in a telephone interview Vega said "My goal was to have a copy of, a physical copy, of the songs that belong to me, because I don't own the masters of my recordings that people know. The big hit Luka, when you hear it on the radio, that recording belongs to A&M. It doesn't belong to me. I have no control over how they use it or how they don’t use it.”
Kate McNally, NHPR.org
The first half of last night's show was recorded for "The Tupelo Radio Project" on NH Public Radio.   Kate McNally who hosts The Folk Show asked questions of Vega between songs and got some pretty interesting stories out of the singer songwriter; the show will air Sunday February 19 at 9 pm. A list of the other scheduled shows can be found on The Folk Show webpage.

Vega opened with "Marlene On The Wall" and played a few songs on her guitar. She then set the guitar down and broke into "Caramel" with lots of finger snaps for percussion. She took back the guitar and at the urging of NH PR's McNally introduced the wonderfully talented Gerry Leonard. Leonard does things to his guitar that routinely make audience members think the music they hear is pre-recorded but it's not, I've watched and photographed from the front row.

Gerry Leonard

When Vega was 18, working at a summer camp in upstate New York she met a fellow camp counselor "down the road" who returned to England at the end of the season. Vega penned this song for him and he gave her his bandanna. "Gypsy."


The guitar came off again and McNally asked Vega what was up next for her. Vega replied, writing songs to finish up the Close Up Series, working on the play (referring to the play she co-wrote with Duncan Shiek "Carson McCullers Talks About Love." 




Vega played three from the play to close out the first half of the show: "New York Destination", "Anne Marie" and "Harper Lee." 



Vega's Guitar
At 9:30 Vega and Leonard returned to the stage. Vega said it was time for a cheerful song and she told the tale of her beloved 17 year old cat that died. Her mom gave it a shampoo and blow dry; then her mom and stepfather carried it down to the East River and put it on a raft; set fire to the raft; and sent it sailing up the river in a Viking Funeral. Vega decided she did not want a Viking Funeral but a big old fashioned marble "Tombstone." Vega giggled "A long story for a very short song."

Gerry Leonard
After "Blood Makes Noise" during which Leonard again demonstrated his unusual guitar playing...Vega dedicated "Man Who Played God" to Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse/Mark Linkous)

They closed the set with Vega's two biggest hits "Luka" and "Tom's Diner." Vega said to follow her on Facebook so she could know more about everyone, like their birthdays. Then she wished a 'Happy Birthday' to a young lady in the audience named Luka who was celebrating her birthday last night.

 "Calypso"  and "Rosemary/Remember Me" were performed as encores.

Very full house, 1:45 minute show. Always great seeing Suzanne in the Upper Valley.

SETLIST
Marlene On the Wall (1985)
When Heroes Go Down (1993)
Small Blue Thing (1985)
Caramel (2010)
Frank and Ava (2007)
Gypsy (1986)
NY Destination (2011)
Anne Marie (2011)
Harper Lee (2011)
  Intermission
Tombstone (1996)
Blood Makes Noise (1992)
Man Who Played God (2009) Dedicated to Mark Linkous
Queen and Soldier (1985)
Some Journey (1985)
Luka (1987)
Tom's Diner (1987)
 Encore
Calypso (1987)
Rosemary/Remember Me (1999)
(In Liverpool) on list not played
(New York is Woman) on list not played