Saturday, November 6, 2010

Suzanne Vega . . . Close Up In Paris . . .

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If you'd like to try some fine reading matter, and haven't been there already, I can only recommend that you stop by Steve's place, Bloggertropolis. Today he used the word "curmudgeon", and allowed that he is becoming a deeply ingrained curmudgeon. Any blog that uses the word "curmudgeon" is fine in my book. I think I too am becoming a curmudgeon. This morning the first thing la Grenouille told me when I got up was that a truck had backed into my car where it was quietly parked in front of our humble abode, caving in the driver side door, and shattering the window in it. And then drove off. Without so much as a "I beg your pardon". Oh Joy ! Hours to be spent calling the insurance agent, the garage, the police, waiting for the police to come, to ask their questions. No we did not see the truck. Maybe it was a wild boar for all I know. Taking the car to the garage. Going to the police station to finish filling out a written report. Oh glorious day ! Yep, I'm a curmudgeon alright. I think I might have been capable of bludgeoning that barbarian brute of a truck driver with a baseball bat, had the occasion presented itself. But it didn't. So I'll just blog about it in my best curmudgeonly manner. This is what the fractured safety glass of the window looked like this fine morning.
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Our cat Noisette, on the other hand, couldn't have cared less. Perhaps it is better to be a cat than a cur-mudgeon ? She sat stoically meditating over autumn leaves in the yard.
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But cats and curmudgeons are not what I had intended to blog about today at all. I shan't let a boorish barbarian deprive me of a deep, nearly divine pleasure. What I really wanted to share with you all was what we did last night. Which was to get in the car, before it had been so grievously abused, to drive into Paris and go to a show at the Théâtre Marigny, near the Champs Elysées.
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To see a concert in fact . . .
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And who was on the bill last night ? None other than one of my favorite singer songwriters, Suzanne Vega.
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Inside the theatre lobby there were digital screens also announcing her Close Up Tour. Though the screens looked normal to the human eye, to my digital camera something strange happened, and with no post-processing whatsoever, the image looked like it had been through a photoshop magi-mix session with chopped mushrooms on the menu.
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On the next try the black and white screen went pale green. I gave up trying to shoot it after that.
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Suzanne was in dazzlingly fine form last night in Paris. Her voice is clear and strong and liquid, no signs of aging there at all. She was marvellous. And what I really love about Suzanne Vega, other than her fluid voice, tantalizing lyrics, and passionate guitar playing, . . . yes, what I really find utterly charming and disarming about Suzanne . . . are her dimples. She has dimples that animate her face and give lyric expression to what she is singing that simply floor me. Yes, I admit it, I was mesmerized by her dimples. Oh, and the music too.
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She did most every song I could have imagined wanting to hear, old classics like Luka, the Queen & the Soldier, Tom's Diner, Small Blue Thing, Solitude Standing, Calypso, as well as a surprise in Serge Gainsbourg's Bonnie & Clyde, which was well received by the Parisian audience. A few hours of unrivaled pleasure !
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Oh, those dimples ! Especially when she is concentrating hard on the intricacies of her hypnotizing rhythms.
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She was accompanied by a gentleman named Gerry Leonard who performed some guitar magic of his own, perfectly complementing Suzanne's acoustic guitar.
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And the sound man, we mustn't forget the sound man who kept it all perfectly balanced.
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After the show Suzanne very graciously appeared in the theatre lobby and was more than willing to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans. How many musicians in her league do you know that will do that after a show ?
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So I couldn't resist asking her to sign one of our tickets . . .
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She was obviously enjoying talking with fans . . . while hiding a smile dimple behind a strand of hair. Sorry for the slightly green tint, the lobby lights were not giving off white light.
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Shooting photos with no flash in a dark concert hall is more of a challenge than one might think. Even by pushing my Canon camera's ISO setting as high as it would go to 1600, I still amply proved to myself that I have a long way to go toward taking a higher percentage of good photos in such settings, by producing far more thoroughly blurred images than crisp, sharp ones. Even when the spotlights were at their brightest the fastest shutter speeds my camera could muster were between 1/40th and 1/60th of a second, while more often they were at 1/25th or 1/13th. As you know, if such matters are of interest to you, unless you are using a tripod and your subject is holding very still, that is not fast enough to avoid blurring, as your hand cannot hold a camera still enough. So, like any poor artist, which explains why Rolling Stone is not beating down my door to pay for my services, I'll blame my equipment. I need a higher performance camera, with higher possible ISO settings. 3600 would have been better. With a faster lens. Openings of f1.8 would have been welcome. Even with the limited depth of field they offer. But all that is going to have to wait. Guess I'll just have to live with a blurred image or two. Actually, I sort of like this last one. It may be my favorite. Blurred dimples and shining eyes !
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Suzanne, should you ever see this, I'd like to thank you for a magical evening in Paris. And I'm looking forward to hearing Chinese Bones the next time, as you promised.
:-)
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52 comments:

Nadege said...

Suzanne Vega is a class act!
I am so sorry about your car. What a drag that you have to deal with all this during your weekend too.

Steve said...

Ah... so jealous. Been a fan of the wondrous Ms Vega for years. Small Blue Thing is the most beautiful lovesong ever. I'd glady swap evenings with you and take your ram-raided truck to boot just for an evening with this fine songstress! Hope your car gets sorted out with the minimum of fuss, Owen, what a horrible way to greet the world this morning.

mythopolis said...

This was a fun post to read and view. I know it is small consolation, but in that you were into dimples last night, how ironic to awaken the next morning to find that your car has dimples too! (Not as fetching as Suzanne's, I'm sure!!)

the fly in the web said...

So not only a great artist but a nice lady as well...that's somehow reassuring.

Good luck with sorting out the car...I feel that an appropriate punishment for the bod who did it would be to have to serve as a paperwork slave for a year, filling out all the wretched forms that French life throws at one and visiting the many offices necessary to depose same in the right one at the right time.
I reckon he/she/it would turn pedestrian after a year of that.

Loulou said...

Lucky you! So jealous too :-)
Thanks for sharing anyway, it was as if I was closer to her then!
Loved her portrait.... beautiful Suzanne, eternal Suzanne, we love you!
Thanks Owen, take care
Loulou from Delhi

lgsquirrel said...

I don't believe it! I post about a virtual concert by Suzanne Vega and within a few days you go to see a real life concert by the musical icon. And you get such wonderful pictures and you got her autograph. I'm sorry about your car but it's almost like a little redress for all that incredible good karma. This squirrel is going to sulk, eat a ton of nuts and put on weight.

Sigh. I know what you mean about them dimples.

bicocacolors said...

great post!
I love Suzanne Vega too!
greetings from Spain

Alistair said...

I'm jealous.

Curmudgeonly yours.......Al.

TechnoBabe said...

You had such a delightful evening at the concert in Paris that you almost should thank the guy who ran into your car that he waited till you saw the concert. Almost. But what a nasty surprise to wake to. I hope you have a rental car through your insurance till the car is repaired. I listened to some of her songs on iTunes. Thanks for the recommendation.

Sar@h said...

J'ai eu du mal à voir la vidéo, alors j'en ai trouvé une récente (Au 2ème losange)
http://www.suzannevega.com/suzanne-on-paris-tv/

Mince, pas très sympa le coup de la voiture, on va penser avec … dérision qu'il n'a pas voulu vous réveiller, mais qu'en réalité il aurait fait virer l'alcootest !

Bravo pour les photos !!! Quelle chance de pouvoir aller au concert (le temps, l'argent & le choix !), moi, mes concerts sont dan la rue.

The Sagittarian said...

Great pix of what was always going to be a grand night out with Ms Vega!
Bad luck about the truck that smased your screen, but isn't that wee cat a tonic? :-)

Nevine said...

Oh, but she is enchanting, isn't she? She takes me back... really. So much good music... so many precious memories. And I am a fan of dimples, too. People who have dimples make my knees buckle... in a good way. One of the things you mentioned, though, about her... how gracious it was of her to stick around afterwards and sign autographs. Sometimes, when people become famous, they forget that it is the very people they are evading who made them famous in the first place. What was it Einstein said? Something about the more famous I become, the more stupid I become. Well, it was something like that. I don't want to misquote poor Albert and start him rolling in his grave. But then, he was right... as he was on so many counts.

It was a pleasure to share your photos with you, Owen. And to think... Paris.

And last, and certainly not least, but rather most importantly... I am so very sorry to hear about the mishap with your car. It is a terrible thing to have one's property violated in such a way. But dare I say? You've made art out of ugliness with that magical photo of shattered glass. I'm not heartless or insensitive... oh, no. I'm just saying, that only Owen, can take such a tragedy as shattered glass... and turn it into such a beautiful shot.

I fear I might have shot myself in the foot, there, Owen. So now, I will take myself and go. :-)

Wishing you a beautiful Sunday!

Nevine

Owen said...

PS, au cas où parmi les lecteurs ou lectrices en français quelqu'un ne savait pas comment traduire "dimples", il s'agit de "fossettes", et Suzanne en a de plus jolies que je n'ai jamais vues...
:-)

Owen said...

Dear Nadege,
She is as classy as they come !

As for the car, I still can't believe it, but am sure I'll get over it. Many thanks !

Owen said...

Steve, I can't agree more... Small Blue Thing is out there in the stratosphere of fine songs. She can hypnotize me any day. One particularly excellent recording that's out there of another of her tunes that I love is this one :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt0sXRBLfJM

Cheers... the car will sort itself out, but my curmudgeonliness may be here to stay...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Mythop,
I hadn't seen the connection, but you are so right, the car was badly dimpled, but nearly in such lovely ways as Suzanne... the car was more of a pout at being knocked about like that.
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Fly,
I can only think in superlatives for some reason when it comes to Suzanne. Though I've loved her music for years, this was the first time I'd seen her in concert, in person. If any more chances present themselves, I won't miss her again.

As for the truck driver, having to fill out french paperwork (which is sort of like Vogon poetry in Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) would only be the start of his punishment...
:-)

Owen said...

Chère Loulou,
Ah, toi aussi tu aimes bien Suzanne ? Tu aurais dû venir... un aller-retour Delhi-Paris-Delhi, il y restait des places, on aurait pu organiser cela... bon, next time, ok ?
:-)

Et oui, elle est très belle dans ces portraits, non ? J'étais très agréablement surpris que quelques unes des photos étaient nettes... parmis beaucoup de floues... ce n'est vraiment pas évident de faire de bonnes photos dans de telles conditions.
Grands bisoux amicaux de Paris à Delhi !

Owen said...

Hi LGS !
That is indeed amazing ! What an incredible coincidence ! I had missed your post last week, only saw it today after seeing your comment here; so I can only surmise that Suzanne vibes were in the air, and they rippled all the way out to Malaysia and registered in spite of earthquakes and volcanoes and things happening not too terribly far from you. I enjoyed your virtual video concert, but seeing her on stage doing Tom's Diner was even better. And indeed, those dimples ! Blessed dimples... She sings with incredible force, every ounce of her being is concentrated into what she is doing on stage, and it comes across pure and vibrant and bright, like ringing bells and fountains of rainbows... and I don't know what else... close to heaven I guess...
:-)

Owen said...

Hola Elena, muchas gracias, and a big bonjour from Paris to you. Thanks so much for stopping in here, and good to know Suzanne has a fan in Spain...

Owen said...

Hi Alistair,
I think with Steve and yourself we may have to found a Curmudgeon Club, where sour tempers may have their day... a castle in Scotland can be the headquarters... there must be a few other curmudgeons out there who would want to join us...
:-)

PS You have every reason to be jealous... it was that good !

:-)

Owen said...

Bonjour Sar@h, oui, effectivement, c'était une chance formidable de pouvoir assister à cette soirée magique dans un joli vieux théâtre parisien... moins de chance pour la bagnole ! Tant pis, c'est la vie. Merci en tout cas...

Owen said...

Dear Saj,
ah there you are... thought you were still in the dark in that closet. Haven't heard hide nor hair of the closet's owner now for days, after she warned us about the blog police... I can only hope no news is good news.

It was a fine night out indeed with Ms. Vega, and I'm sure you would have fancied her guitar player Gerry in his bright pink trousers...

As for the cat, yep, catatonic... that's the word ! Sure wish I could head way south for the winter here, summer there...
:-)

Owen said...

Dearest Nevine,
Oh, please don't take yourself and go... you are welcome to stay as long as you please. We can bring a wheelbarrow around to cart you off in if needed, what with your buckled knees caused by dimples (I love the French word for that which is "fossettes") and by a shot foot...
:-)

But no, not at all shot in the foot, you are right, when I took that picture I really was trying to see the bright side of the accident. You should've seen the glass after the picture. I hardly touched it and it all fell out on the ground in hundreds of little pieces. But glass and metal can be replaced, when one sees all the horrible things that happen in cars, this was really nothing at all, just a bad surprise to wake up to...

And as you are so good at, you go right to the heart of these matters. Suzanne was absolutely wonderful to come out in the lobby of the theatre to meet fans. She was beaming, and was just lovely with everyone, I listened for a while as she talked to various people, set them at ease, made them smile too. I was almost too shy to walk up myself, but finally did, and am so glad, she was warm and thoughtful... she promised she'd play a song the next time she came to Paris that I'd called for during the show, but she'd said "no"... but explained after that she hadn't rehearsed it with her guitar player, but she would... so I'll be looking forward to another Suzanne show in Paris.

Shadow said...

you have a good eye for sure. i'll be back for more...

Mahon said...

Quel post incroyable !
et quelle soiré, vous en avez vous de la chance, en tout cas merci pour votre partage, cela est toujours très agréable de vous lires ! Et d'admirer vos magnifiques photos pleines de lumiére ! :))

A Bientot !!

Stickup Artist said...

Tme spent with insurance agents and police over such a matter would drive any one of us into the curmudgeonly zone thank you very much.

Technical difficulty notwithstanding, the concert shots turned out great! You did a fabulous job capturing the evening! I've seen footage on concert photographers and they have all kinds of advantages you could not possibly have. Superior equipment is just a small part of it. You obviously have the technical skill and artistic ability! The work you did during and after the performance is a stunningly intimate portrait of a classic, classy, beautiful artist. One can see the aura of her soul shining outward. You got the goods!

Fragrant Liar said...

Oh, I do love Suzanne Vega. Her voice has always been so clear and sharp. "Luka" is one of my classic faves. Oh, and to see Vega in Paris! Que magnifique!

I think cats are quite curmudgeonly, btw.

K'line Bloom said...

Merci pour le partage Owen et bravo pour avoir capturé l'artiste en "plein vol" . La dernière est vraiment magique.
Désolée d'apprendre les mésaventures de ta voiture...Difficile de rester zen dans une telle situation :/
Take care

Superali Romesecret said...

Wow, I haven't thought about her in a long time... grat photos. She's looking good.

Owen said...

Shadow,
Thank you and please do... the more the merrier...

Owen said...

Bonsoir Mahon,
Merci bcp, c'était une soirée plus qu'agréable, si jamais tu as l'occasion de la voir en concert, cela vaut largement le détour.

J'ai bien aimé tes photos de cimetière allemand... un triste passé évoqué là. Mais il ne faut pas oublier.

Owen said...

Dear Stickup,
You are exceedingly kind. I was so lucky to end up with a few photos out of the lot that I think really are ok.

But so many blurred ones, I was kicking myself when I got home. A good part of this afternoon was spent poring over the manual for the camera, and there are some things I could have tried if I had known. In one of the customizing menus there is a on/off option for extending the ISO range, if I had known to set that to "On", I could have gone to 3200 ISO instead of the 1600 I was shooting with. Apparently 3200 is the maximum setting possible on this camera. And if I had been clever enough to choose the center-only light metering, and thus getting the light reading based only on the spotlit parts of the image, and not having the dark background areas averaged in, I might have been able to get faster shutter speeds, and less blur.

Live and learn. Guess I'll just have to find another concert to go to, and try these options out. Still have many things to learn about the camera... and am not the most patient manual reader in town, I'd rather be out shooting...

And then also this afternoon I saw some advertising material about a Nikon camera that goes up to 26000 iso... arrrgghhh... it is hard to keep up with technological change ! And costly... sigh...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Fragrant !
Cats are the kings and queens of curmudgeon... no doubt about it. They may have invented the term, or it may have been invented about them by a jealous pack of dogs. Cats are curmudgeon with class...

Suzanne in Paris was beyond magnifique, she was heavenly...

And speaking of cats, Suzanne told a story to lead in to her song "Tombstone", which you can hear on Youtube (both the story and the song) about why she wrote the song, which was because her mother had taken the deceased family cat who had died of old age, washed it, dried it, and then placed in in a cardboard box on a raft, and set the whole thing on fire adrift on the East River in NYC. Suzanne said she wanted a tombstone in a cemetery instead when she went... and she prefaced all that by saying this was one of her more cheerful pieces ! She has quite a sense of humor.
:-)

Owen said...

Chère K'line,
Comme tu dis, difficile de rester zen :/

Mais bon, avec tous les voisins qui sont venus témoigner leur support et amitié et colère contre les barbares, on a fini par sourire. Il y a pire choses à subir.

Quant aux photos de Suzanne, et le partage... c'est justement le partage qui vaut la chandelle... si ce n'était pas pour des visites chaleureuses de quelques lecteurs et lectrices comme toi, tout cela n'aurait pas bcp de sens... oui, c'est le partage qui donne tout le plaisir...

Bonne semaine à toi. J'ai deux grenouillettes ici qui n'étaient pas contentes ce soir, car c'est la fin des vacances... c'est la vie...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Romesecret,
Very pleased to meet you, and pleased to discover your blog in Rome, which is visible full of secrets, and good things to eat.
:-)

Suzanne was looking, and sounding absolutely marvellous. I think it is safe to say a good time was had by all. The applause and foot stamping after nearly brought the roof down...

Deborah said...

I remember Suzanne Vega!! I've never had the good fortune to hear her live, but can appreciate that it was a special occasion.
I know what you mean about dimples. I think they're a sign of good character and easy humour - never met a dimpled person I didn't like.

The first three photos of her - where she is obviously in the midst of performing - were taken by you? I'm assuming so. They turned out very well, Owen, no problems with ISO settings there. Is your Canon an SLR?

Ed May said...

You got some great shots anyway, Owen. Nice work!

So nice to hear Suzanne is so well-received in Paris. She always puts on such an awesome show! I can't wait for the chance to see her again. And she is so gracious to sign everything her fans present her after the show.

And remember, cars come and go, but there's only 1 Suzanne Vega. And Suzanne's voice just gets better and better. You're right, the dimples are really cute, too.

Good luck with the repairs, anyway. Nice site you have here.

Thanks for the pictures!

Ed

Peter said...

Too bad I missed Suzanne; learnt about it too late!

(Hope that the insurance company will treat you correctly!)

mythopolis said...

In the world of dimples, the dimples of Venus, are hard to beat!

Owen said...

Hi Deborah,
She was wonderful on stage, if you ever get the chance, do go...

Yes, all the photos here were done by me the other night in Paris. All the photos on this blog are done by me, with very rare exceptions, in which case I make it quite clear that a photo was not taken by myself and credit the responsable photographer. The camera used is a Canon 40D SLR digital. I started with a Canon A1 film camera back in 1979, and have been photographing ever since. But have never done so much photography as in the past two years since getting the 40D, which is a true pleasure to work with. Though I still have alot to learn about it... see answer to Stickup Artist above...

Owen said...

Hi Ed,
Many thanks for dropping in here, it's always a pleasure to see new faces... err... new names. I gather you have had the pleasure of seeing Suzanne more than once in concert ?

Many thanks in any case for stopping by and leaving a kind word, I really appreciate it. I clicked through to your blogger profile, but no blog associated with it ? Do you perhaps have a web site somewhere ?

Best wishes...

Owen said...

Hey Peter, ah, it is very hard to keep up with everything going on in Paris. I do try to keep an eye on the Olympia and the Fnac concert info... every once in a while I can be tempted to go see a good artist perform, and support their efforts by buying tickets. Last show before Suzanne was Jackson Browne at the Olympia last spring. Which was also fun...

The insurance people have already agreed to pay all costs, and a replacement car rental during the repairs... but it's still a nuisance. Sigh...
:-)

Owen said...

Dear Mythopolis,
It took me a moment to recall, with the help of Google, what exactly the "Dimples of Venus" were... the pictures Google Images returns for those search criteria were quite instructive. Many thanks !!!

Suzanne's dimples of venus remained hidden throughout the show, she was a model of propriety. But then when one plays music on the cosmic level that she does, there is no need for some of the tawdry and revealing stage apparel resorted to by certain other less talented performers who do not bear (bare?) naming here.
:-)

Ed May said...

Hi Owen

Yes, I saw Suzanne for the first time last spring, and I had the good fortune to be up front. I had an unforgettable experience, too. I can tell you were equally blown away yourself. No blog, but if you're interested surf on over to Suzanne's site (Suzannevega.com), where there's a nice message board (The Undertow), and some interesting discussions. I'm sure you will agree that her music is not just entertainment, but a treat for the soul. She reaches deep inside you and brings out emotions you may not have known you had. I've found no one else who can do this, let alone after I've heard some of her songs hundreds of times. And she cheerfully signed my Close-Up CD, my copy of the The Passionate Eye, and a setlist I scrounged off the stage. She's a jewel! Was it just her and Gerry? Wasn't Mike there on bass?

Glad to hear you'll get your ride fixed.

And I've just seen her the one time, since "returning" to listening to her music last year, after a too-long absence. I'm expecting her back out here in Seattle next winter, and I'll be first in line, if at all possible.

Cheers,

Ed (Islandflyer)

pRiyA said...

I think the way the glass has broken is really beautiful - like lace. But I think I too would have been a curmudgeon if that happened to MY car.
Lucky you getting Suzanne Vega to sign a ticket and all.

jeff said...

J'aime beaucoup !
Je l'ai écouté maintes et maintes fois !... J'adore "99.9 F" !
Elle est toujours aussi belle femme... un peu viellie tout de même...:(... mais aussi magnifique, radieuse, incandescente !
Veinard va...

Ciao amigo !

PS : Pas encore en français ?...:)

Owen said...

Hi Ed,
Many thanks for the info about Suzanne's site. I'd been aware she had a website, but hadn't noticed the forum... I got over there and posted a note about the show in Paris under the Concerts section of the forum. There was another blogger at the concert who also posted a piece about her show on his blog and in the Undertow forum. Good stuff ! Hope you can see here again...

Owen said...

Priya,
I sincerely hope you never have to become a curmudgeon due to damage to your car... there are more than enough curmudgeons in the world already...
:-)

Owen said...

Ah Jeff,
Voilà, il y a quand même certaines bonnes choses qui sortent de New York... ces chansons sont sublime. La version de Bonnie an Clyde qu'elle a fait de Gainsbourg était particulièrement aimé par la foule qui était là...

Pas si vieille, un peu plus que moi... donc très jeune...
:-)

Peut-être un jour en français, faut pas désespérer...

Ed May said...

Thanks Owen,

I felt silly when I saw you had posted there earlier. I had found your site from my Google alert for Suzanne. Stick around. Sometimes there is some interesting stuff there.

So what do you think about the new Close-Up recordings?

(give some feedback on the Undertow, too)

For my 2 cents, Suzanne has never sounded better. Of course, having just seen her, I'm sure you will agree.

Cheers!

Ed

JM said...

These are some fantastic portraits!
Thank you so much for the tip on the rhino book.