By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The Morinville Community Cultural Centre is doing something a little different this Valentine’s Day; offering couples a romantic evening out with dinner and a show. Blues and roots music performer Suzie Vinnick’s concert will be preceded by a dinner prepared by Chef Doug Adsit, owner of the Green Bean.
Vinnick is an award-winning and Juno-nominated Canadian musician with several albums to her credit. Best known for her album Mabel ‘N Me, Vinnick has recently released Live at Bluesville, an album recorded in Washington, DC. The musician was in Memphis last week for the International Blue Challenge where she represented the Toronto Blues Society in the Solo/Duo Category. Her Morinville gig will be followed by several performances in Saskatchewan and Ontario.
Interview with Suzie Vinnick
Morinville News: What can a Morinville audience expect from a Suzie Vinnick show?
Suzie Vinnick: Well, typically my shows consists of a mix of blues and roots music, a few stories thrown in here and there, and there might be Oreo Cookies…you just never know! The Morinville show is a Valentine’s Day show so my song choices might lean a little bit towards the ‘lovey’ side of things. Not getting all heavy and romantic I mean, but just keeping things in a positive place. I will likely invite the audience to sing along on a few songs!
MN: Your CD Me ‘N’ Mabel shows a fairly wide range of vocal styles, including your cover of Hoyt Axton’s Never Been To Spain, which is best known through Three Dog Night’s version. Is there a particular music style that you are more passionate about than another?
SV: Growing up I listened to a crazy variety of music – Led Zeppelin to Ozzy Osbourne to Heart to Supertramp to Bach! I love all sorts of styles of music but one style of music I didn’t enjoy as a kid was country. Dad used to listen to country music in the car when he’d drive us kids around and we’d beg him to change the radio station. However, now that’s changed as my boyfriend, James, has turned me onto some great music from that day, and now I find I’m loving listening to old country like George Jones, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and bluegrass by the Louvin Brothers – to name a few. I’ve always been a fan of classic rock so that’s where Three Dog Night and their version of Never Been to Spain enter into the picture.
MN: Clearly there is a strong partnership between you and your 10-year-old Larrivee parlour guitar. Like B. B. King, you’ve chosen to name your guitar. Talk to me about the relationship between musician and instrument.
SV: I bought my parlour guitar, Mabel, in February 2003 or thereabouts. My friend Paul set me up with a few parlour guitars to try, but Mabel was the one that sung to me the best. It was warm sounding for fingerpicking and had a nice little dobro-esque honk for bluesier material. Over the years it’s really opened up nicely. The guitar has also gathered a bit of ‘road rash’; I’m a bit hard on my instruments, but I guess they’re there for the playing, right? I joke that I’m “Willie Nelson-izing’ the guitar as there is a little patch just above the sound hole that is wearing away. It hasn’t broken through like the hole on Willie’s guitar. I guess we’ll see what happens in a few years.
I named the guitar Mabel by mistake. Some folks thought her name was in reference to Big Maybelle, but in fact Mabel’s name came to be just as a simple slip of the tongue. I was describing the wood she is made of to an audience, “maple sides and back and spruce top” and slipped and said “Mabel sides and back” and it kind of stuck. She’s a good guitar and never complains even when I dig into her so hard when I play.
MN: Your most recent album, Live at Bluesville, was recorded in Washington, DC. What was that experience like for a Canadian blues singer?
Recording in Washington, DC at Sirius/XM was a treat! At first I thought it was going to be a radio interview but it ended up being a full on recording session in the big Sirius/XM studio. Bill Wax (the producer of Sirius/XM B.B. King’s Bluesville station) and his crew made me feel so comfortable. They were so easy going, it was basically – “here’s our studio, go in and have some fun!” Bill mentioned to me that some artists end up releasing their Sirius/XM recordings as albums. I was really happy with how the recording turned out and so I released Live At Bluesville last May. It’s very similar to my album Me ‘n’ Mabel in that it’s pared down vocal and guitar.
MN: What is up next for Suzie Vinnick in terms or recording?
SV: I’m hoping to do a bunch of writing through late winter, spring and into the summer; thinking I’m going to record an electric album – some tunes may be just me and an electric guitar and some may be with full band. The writing will dictates how it ends up.
The Suzie Vinnick dinner and show takes place Feb. 14 at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. Cocktails at 5:30, dinner at 6:30, show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 for general admission, $45 for seniors and students with valid student ID. Price includes dinner. Tickets are available at the Cultural Centre box office or through tickets on the square at tixonthesquare.ca/event/detail/5520/.