When we embarked on our first official "Artist in Residency" with Susan Cattaneo we envisioned it was going to be a continuously evolving event with a revolving array of players and special guests and the dynamic singer songwriter always at the core. On the first night of that residency Susan decided to pay tribute to her female heroes in music with an evening dedicated to 'Women Who Rock' featuring music and stories that inspired her from the earliest days as an aspiring musician. Special guest, and lifelong friend and colleague, Scarlet Keys added an inspiring acoustic set and the band Susan assembled for this evening
She's the 'songwriter's songwriter' with a bit of an "outlaw" streak on the odd days and an inspirational "get off the mat" beacon on the even ones. Susan Cattaneo is a mother, wife, Berklee Professor, songwriter, band leader, singer and an inspiration along with being one of the sweetest and most positive people you'll ever meet. With that, and a band comprised of some of Boston's top players in tow, she rumbled through a 90 plus minute set in front of a sold out Fallout Shelter crowd on December 1, 2018. It's important to note that the Fallout Shelter is a bit of a unique spot to see live music. The crowd is mostly middle-age and up...people who still love good live music but have neither the time, nor desire to deal with the hassle of traveling to a shitty bar to see it. It's a "listening room" tucked away in the metro-west suburbs of Boston and it's become a place that musicians love to play more than most any venue in the area. What was palpable on this particular night was the reaction of the audience made up primarily of professional, middle age women who were cheering on "one of their own" up on the stage rocking the house! She was inspirational from the first note to the last standing ovation, leaving no emotional stones unturned and completely emptying the tank. The consummate professional in every manner imaginable with "Springsteen-like" energy and a damn good catalogue of work to draw from, Susan Cattaneo and her band took no prisoners. Take note people...this, is how it's done.
"What's In The Grooves" is an instant classic! A fun, frolicking throwback to the twangy country music sound of the 50's that tips a cap to everyone from Elvis Presley to Chuck Berry to Buck Owens to Merle Haggard and everyone in between. It's an "ode-to-joy" about the days when you went to the corner record store and got the newest 45 rpm record and then proceeded to go home and wear it out. It's Susan Cattaneo at her best...painting a picture with lyrics and melody that can transport you to a moment in your own timeline that's as vivid as an album of old photographs. This time it's a really happy moment, other times she can put you back into a moment wrought with pain and sorrow but she'll always leave you a trail of breadcrumbs to guide you out of the darkness and look ahead.
This was a stand out night from start to finish. Everything stood out but if there was a moment that brought it all together from the meaning to the message to the joy of watching this band perform it would have been "Work Hard, Love Harder." This song was written about time...how fast it moves and how much of life can pass you by while you're thinking about what to do with it. THIS is what sets Susan Cattaneo apart from so many of her contemporaries. If you can listen to the lyrics of this song and not be motivated to notice the world around you and what's important in it or take life by the horns and do something with it than you're just not paying attention. It's the anthem of 'life is short, enjoy the ride.'
Songwriters at the level of Susan Cattaneo often swap songs with each other and write songs together. It's always interesting to see what songs an accomplished songwriter will choose to cover as was the case here. We chose a couple of covers from the evening that just stood alone. "Every River," written by the great Kim Richey and "Back Door Slam" written by Bonnie Hayes. Both songs let the band cut loose a bit and highlight the sheer talent that occupied the stage, in particular "Back Door Slam" which rocked the house.
Following the show we discussed bringing in Susan cattaneo for our first official "Artist In Residency" starting in February 2019 Susan will be doing a monthly show with different styles, themes and groups and we're pretty stoked about that!
SUSAN CATTANEO BAND
Susan Cattaneo - acoustic guitar, vocals
Jamie Walker - electric guitar, vocals
Michael Bean - pedal steel guitar, lap steel guitar, vocals
Jimmy Ryan - mandolin, vocals
Richard Gates - bass, vocals
Andrew Jones - drums
The Session Crew
Produced and edited by:
H. Nat Stevens
Dan Busler Photography