Marianne Glass Miller on Susan Werner

Choices, choices!  Ron and I decided to see In Full Light at Germano’s Friday night.  Thankfully for all of us, Marianne Glass Miller was at Susan Werner’s concert at WolfTrap and filed this report:

I’m a big Susan Werner fan, as some of you may know.  And, as much as I love her CD’s, from the folk rock of Last of the Good Straight Girls to the neo-Great American Songbook style of I Can’t Be New, they pale in comparison with her live performances.  Onstage, she is utterly relaxed, engaging, and very funny (think wry wit), but what draws me back to her live concerts is how in command she is of her musical gifts.

Her concert at the Barns at Wolf Trap last Friday night was a treat.  Werner launched into her show with “Hey Hey” (I believe this is a brand new song), then straight into a mini-set of tunes from The Gospel Truth, her 2007 album described by critics as “agnostic gospel” (and by Werner herself as “secular hell-bound material”).   She was accompanied by her excellent percussionist, Trina Hamlin, and by a new bass player, Julia Biber.  At first, there was something a bit tentative about Biber’s playing and I was missing Werner’s long-time bass player, Greg Holt.  Later, it became clear why Biber was part of the band.  Werner has just released a new CD called Classics in which she covers pop songs from the 60’s and 70’s with arrangements for string quartet and classical instruments.  During the last portion of the show when Werner showcased several of these new songs, Biber’s playing lost its tentativeness and her accompaniment was rich and beautiful.  There was even a funny bit in which Biber mimicked other classical cellists’ playing styles and facial expressions, including Yo-Yo Ma’s.

Werner’s voice is rich and supple, and she uses it to best serve her material, whether it’s the smooth lounge style of “I Can’t Be New” or the sardonic folk sensibility of “Probably Not.”  She is equally masterful on guitar and piano.  Her songs encompass so many different musical styles, it would be limiting to call her a cabaret or folk singer.  I think she is truly a great musical communicator.  Don’t miss her the next time she’s in town.

Here’s the set list:

  • Hey Hey
  • Why Is Your Heaven So Small
  • Thy Kingdom Come
  • Sunday Mornings
  • Did Trouble Me
  • Probably Not
  • Time Between Trains
  • Give Me Chicago Any Day
  • I Can’t Be New
  • May I Suggest
  • The Movie of My Life
  • Lonely People
  • Mercy Me
  • I Listen to the Wind
  • Hazy Shade of Winter
  • Help Somebody

4 Responses to Marianne Glass Miller on Susan Werner

  1. Toni Rae says:

    I’m so sorry I missed her! Love that you called her a “great musical communicator,” something every cabaret artist should aspire to. Thanks for sharing, Marianne!

  2. Emily Leatha Everson says:

    Hi! THanks for your terrific post! I clicked on the “comment” button to write how much I loved your description “great musical communicator,” and it’s a delight to see that it resonated with Toni Rae, too! I’m gonna save that in my collection of “cabaret quotes.” LOVE and THANKS! Em

  3. Marianne says:

    Toni Rae and Emily,
    Thanks, guys! Guess I hit a chord 😉

  4. I adore Susan Werner and tell as many people as I can about her awesome talent. thanks for the great review.

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