While I was unexpectedly in the hospital, Ruckert Studios carried on. I had booked Suzanne Vega to come and talk to the SGA Pro-Shop, and luckily Morgan Ames was in town for an ASCAP meeting and agreed to host the evening in my house. Bill Easton and Kenny Ascher were also hosts fort he evening.
Frankly, it went so well that it hurt my feelings a bit. Everyone raved about the evening, how wonderful Suzanne was. She was insightful and helpful, and forthcoming with information on how to keep a career going—hit after hit. It was an extraordinary evening by everyone’s report.
Suzanne has agreed to come back soon. She did come by with her husband, Paul, last Saturday as I was home from the hospital and brought me some food. I’m so grateful I have been helped by my friends and students, who actually have a sign-up sheet for volunteer hours to help, while I am down for the count.
They are producing our annual concert this Saturday at the church next door. I hope lots of you will show up. It will be grand.
For a change, here are some first-hand reports from my students of Suzanna’s workshop:
Anya Horoszczak: “Spending a few hours with Suzanne Vega provided me with the insight and encouragement that will be needed for my own musical endeavors. Her down to earth attitude combined with the wisdom she’s garnered over the years, made for an eye opening night. With our hopes and dreams presented before her, Suzanne readily divulged the secrets and formulas that begin and sustain an extraordinary career. Truly an authentic experience with one of the most talented artists of our time.”
Elizabeth Gauvey-Kern: “It is always helpful to hear from someone successful in the field you are interested in entering—and this was the perfect case with Suzanne Vega—I have found, for two reasons.
To hear their about their journey. How they got to where they did. What they did that aided them, and/or waylaid them? And what can you expect, so as not to get taken surprised when it happens to you down the line. One of the most enlightening moments of Susan Vega’s talk, was when she talked about getting gigs in the early days. How she would go to club/bar owners and ask what she needed to do to get a gig, when they refused her she asked why, and then worked to correct what they thought was lacking. She listened to advice and she kept coming back. Persistence was one of the greatest lessons I took from her.
She also talked about her experience with DNA, the British group that made a dance mix to her “Tom’s Diner.” This is how I knew the song, growing up. That is how her music reached my generation. Instead of suing DNA, she saw the potential in the remix they had done, and bought the track from them, releasing it herself but crediting DNA. This was a great aid to her career.
Pure experience. I have been songwriting seriously for about a year now. I believe Ms. Vega had about 30 years experience on me. Speaking with her after class I asked something that was weighing on my mind. I had lost a melody—forgotten to write it down—and it had flown out of my head. I said “I always tell myself if it’s a really good melody, then it will come back to me...but sometimes I wonder if that’s true, or if I’m just comforting myself. You’ve had a few years more experience in this. What have you found?” It is such an asset to have someone who can really answer questions like these.”
Lee Demers: “I always bring something home from a Pro- Shop meeting. Once I took a step back and learned how to be a better listener, my Pro-Shop experiences became more meaningful. December 5th’s meeting was no different. Morgan was charming, capable and made us all feel comfortable as she got the meeting underway. She then turned the focus over to Suzanne who told the group how the twists and turns of her creative journey developed over the years. The events, the places, the people, including your influence on her as she struggled with the concept of music theory.
Of course there was no shortage of questions, not with Ann’s clan. Ken is a pleasure to be around. When he is there you know someone special is in the room. Morgan and Elizabeth sang the ingenious rendition of the Christmas song with the intervalic lyrics in 6ths, 2nds and 5ths much to our delight, then we moved on to our music as Vernon spun the CD’s as usual. Another dot connecting experience at the “Pro-Shop.” I must admit I have felt this way before at the Pro-Shop, after all, we are learning from the best, whether it’s from you or one of your thought provoking guests.
Much Love and good wishes,
P.S. Yes, I did practice today!