Sue Jeffers' dad probably had no idea what he was starting when he gave his daughter a copy of Abbie Hoffman's Soon To Be a Major Motion Picture as a high school graduation present.
Ohio native Jeffers hails from the historically significant city of Kent, drives a hybrid car, puts a lot of time and energy into her local peace coalition, and has recorded five albums on her own label, FBI Records. While many of her songs focus on political and social ills, she also writes about affairs of the heart and other everyday topics that all music fans can relate to, no matter what their party affiliation. And despite her focus on activism, she emphasizes that she is a musician first.
"I do find music is a good way to communicate with folks that might not otherwise listen to me if I just gave a speech," she says, "but music is more part of who I am, and I just can't imagine not singing or playing. The music isn't just a vehicle to get out a message."
However, the music and the message have been intertwined her entire life. Piano lessons began at age five, and guitar in fourth grade, and shortly afterwards, her fundraising efforts for UNICEF put her on the organization's float with a crown on her head in a hometown parade. As a high school student, she helped get a levy passed before heading off to college as a flute major.
Her life has been nonstop ever since. She still manages to hold down a day job (to pay for the hybrid car) while playing between 50 to 100 shows a year. Her music has been included on compilation albums by Indiegrrl and the 1999 Musicians For Peace project.
And like many passionate activists, Jeffers has been cuffed, booked, and locked up. While protesting President Reagan's "star wars" program in from of Cleveland's NASA building in the 80s, she was one of 21 activists arrested. While in the holding cell, she kept up everyone's spirits with an impromptu rendition of a bluegrass anti-nuke song that turned into a cell-wide square dance. When the cops dragged her to a smaller cell away from the others, she just sang louder. Then they made the mistake of putting her in a cell with a telephone.
"We called a couple of newspapers and TV stations," Jeffers remembers, "and then started singing again until the residents down a ways suggested we shut up so they could go back to sleep!"
Her voice will not be silenced. She was banned from one Open Mic because of her views, but she finds more doors open to her because of her determination to sing her mind. Her tour schedule includes peace rallies, Earth Day celebrations, and more coffeehouses then she can keep track of.
Of her most recent album, One Man's Ceiling is Just Another One's Door, the Stonewall Society wrote: "Not any sort of repeat of other artists' style or work. Sue Jeffers owns her music in the traditional style of those she is influenced by. And she does them both honor and growth."
Jeffers manages to avoid burnout by reaching out to those she inspires. "We have a pretty good group of folks here in Kent who support and keep each other going," she says proudly. "It helps to organize with loved ones."
Besides, failure is not an option. "Just like I can't imagine not doing music," she adds, "I can't imagine not singing out."
Catch up on projects both political and musical at www.fbirecords.com.
Indiegrrl Performing Member
Sue Jeffers - Vocals, guitar, keyboard
To the Kitchen & Back - LP
Revolution - LP
Cowboys in the Dust - LP
One Man's Ceiling is just Another One's Door - LP
Out of the Bus-LP
Welcome Home - LP
Better Kind of World - LP
Indiegrrl Compilation Vol I && Vol III
Ground Zero - Musicians for Peace Compilation
Stoking the Fires of Resistance - benefit CD
May 4 CD Project - benefit CD
Streaming Audio available at http://www.fbirecords.com
Songs from "One Man's Ceiling" and "Welcome Home" have
received international airplay
on this train
heart on my shoulder-08
voice of amerika
Stonewall Society review of Welcome Home - Sue Jeffers
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Welcome Home" Sue Jeffers Review By: Len Rogers On her website a great description of Su...Welcome Home"
Review By: Len Rogers
On her website a great description of Sue Jeffers is offered. "Sue Jeffers - Insurgent Folk". However, as with most things Sue goes much deeper. Her influences of social conscious folk/rock abound. her ability to bring emotion to the surface is great. Be that the emotion of personal loves and experience or the emotion of socio/political afflictions. Power is the key here. Power to the music, song and Sue's messages. Hailing from Kent, Ohio, Sue's interest in statement is well rooted personally and geographically. Kent, Ohio home to
Kent State University and the 70's student uprising already famous in protest song, is a fitting backdrop to Sue's style.
That is not to say there is nothing other than social and political messages. Sue Jeffers is also in command of a great sense of humor as demonstrated in several songs included on, "Welcome Home". Jeffers has a becoming ability to sing about strife and do with a healthy dose of humor. Thus making her message not only more in-depth but also more enjoyable. Sue begins "Welcome Home" with such statement and humor with the first track, "On This Train". A catchy tune in strong Jeffers style and wit. More "insurgent" pieces like "War Without End" address very specifically with flare and memorable style the current issues of war.
Fourteen tracks complete "Welcome Home". Jeffers has brought her flavor and style upfront with bite, style, and talent. A fun and thought provoking listen, "Welcome Home" is a welcome addition.
Check out more about this renaissance Folk artist at her website. A revealing look and great entertainment.
CD Review - Sue Jeffers , Welcome Home
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http://www.musesmuse.com/ Sue Jeffers definitely is a traditional folk singer. Almost any song wr...http://www.musesmuse.com/
Sue Jeffers definitely is a traditional folk singer. Almost any song written on an acoustic guitar these days is described as folk. But Welcome Home is what I define as true folk.
Jeffers is writing about issues that involve power and injustice. These are songs with a message, a heart and a conscience. They cover topics ranging from war in Iraq to class distinctions in America.
Jeffers plays a fine acoustic guitar. Other instruments include harmonica, banjo, slide guitar, drums and bass. Kitchenware is also listed but you will have to listen for yourself to identify it.
There is a surprise on the last track, Spudz on par-aid which sounds like something from Pulp Fiction gone off track into Appalachia. I would guess there was more than coffee drinking going on during the conception of this song.
Lovers of folk music with a political purpose will love Welcome Home.
Sue Jeffers - Welcome Home
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http://www.rambles.net Welcome Home is folk going back to its true roots of protest and agitation...http://www.rambles.net
Welcome Home is folk going back to its true roots of protest and agitation. This means that you may never hear it without buying Sue Jeffers' CD. It will not sit well with some listeners, but neither did Bob Dylan, Joan Baez or Pete Seeger.
"On This Train" opens the disc with some laidback guitar and harmonica, with lyrics about what you can or cannot have on the eponymous train.
I truly enjoyed "Yelling for War," the kind of song folk music was invented for. It reminded me of the old definition of war: "old men sending young men to fight and die." The lyrics are reminiscent of Dylan in his younger days and show a deep reflection on how Jeffers views the modern world. The lyrics include "the generals keep telling us the children that we kill are collateral damage or just mistakes." Does this mean only mistakes or justified mistakes? The theme continues with "Voice of Amerika."
"Ole Man Blues" continues the violence motif but on a more personal level. It appears to explore the decreasing value of human life, referring to someone who "shot him in the head to see if he would die."
"Compassion Fatigue" captures a spirit abroad in many parts of the world. Are we really losing our capacity to feel for those less fortunate? If we are, we must listen to this and songs like it or we will become so much less than human. "Officer Tom" sounds very much like a song of the 1960s, but on closer listening we hear it could be a wake-up call for the 21st century -- if we are not careful of our hard won civil liberty. The only track not written by Jeffers is Phil Ochs "Cops of the World."
This CD may never be a major hit. It will not get the airplay that many of these tracks deserve because they have too sharp an edge. It reminds me of Buffy Sainte-Marie singing of the Native Americans. Jeffers may not be the greatest singer around today but it is strangely uplifting to hear words that protest the status quo. They may not be revelations, they might even be mistaken in places, but please listen, examine and decide for yourself.
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 1 February 2003
One Man's Ceiling is Just Another One's Door - Sue Jeffers
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http://www.rambles.net Sue Jeffers is a folk musician firmly within the Arlo and Woody Guthrie tr...http://www.rambles.net
Sue Jeffers is a folk musician firmly within the Arlo and Woody Guthrie tradition, combining political commentary with more personal insights in her music. Her political pieces are primarily concerned with environmental issues of different kinds, while the personal songs tend to the bittersweet aspects of relationships and their endings. Two of the songs combine these, weaving the political and personal together, and these songs are particularly strong and effective.
One Man's Ceiling... is almost entirely a solo endeavor, with Jeffers writing the songs and singing them, while also playing the guitar, tin whistle and tambourine (though mostly the guitar), with a little help from James Jeffers on midi and congas (and one subtle example of Bloater the Cat's background vocals on "Rivermud").
My favorite of the political songs is "The Mall Song," a sarcastic paean to development and longing for chain stores. Most politically inclined singer-songwriters these days don't write firmly tongue-in-cheek. I can understand why they may fear having a satire taken literally and used to advertise the very things they protest, but it's still nice to hear a song as resoundingly sarcastic as "The Mall Song." As someone who prefers wetlands to malls, I look forward to playing it for my aspiring mallrat daughter!
"Casmalia" discusses a situation similar to that in Patty Larkin's "Metal Drums," though less well-known (the Larkin song was about the situation in Woburn, MA made into the movie A Civil Action). In "Casmalia" a toxic dump is poisoning part of the town, while the rest cares only about the income it generates. I feel somewhat less sympathetic to the "Greenpeace Canvasser's Lament"; while I support many environmental causes, including Greenpeace sometimes, I loathe having my family or work time interrupted by canvassers, even for ones I support.
"Over Us" blends mourning the end of a love with mourning the state of the natural world at humanity's hands, with powerful effect as the facets reflect and reinforce each other. "T-time at Spam Sandwiches" uses the motto "Make love, not war" as a motif, combining it with somewhat surrealistic and evocative imagery to create a song encouraging both personal and political growth and action.
"Postcard to Encinitas" is one of the saddest and best songs, in which distance causes a breakup that neither person wants but both are unable to prevent. "Rivermud" is another standout, combining beautiful music and instrumental passages with dreamlike images. Many loves end with an agreement to be friends; "Around with Me" wonders whether this is possible or desirable, in the oblique and non-linear way we often think/feel about relationships. "White Bread and Tuna" contains a kaleidoscope of images and physical details of interactions in another evocative and regretful song.
Jeffers includes the complete lyrics to the songs, which is wonderfully helpful in following the imagery in several of them -- it's something I wish all singer-songwriters did.
I like One Man's Ceiling... quite a lot, and think fans of traditional politically aware folk who appreciate Seeger and the Guthries will be especially taken with Jeffers' style, skill and subject matter. I'm glad to have encountered her music, and look forward to hearing more from her in the future.
[ by Amanda Fisher ]
One Man's Ceiling is just Another One's Door
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"Original Acid Folk" is the first thing thing I noticed upon entering Sue Jeffers website. Not j... "Original Acid Folk" is the first thing thing I noticed upon entering Sue Jeffers website. Not just an excellent description but also a self statement. Hailing from Kent Ohio, Sue is surrounded by history of political activism and folk roots. Having attended Ohio State University myself, many of us thought of Kent State as the Ohio poly-cultural epicenter of the state. Possibly due to the Kent State riots which were precursors to the many university uprisings of the 70's. Possibly due to the music available on the subject.
In any and all cases Sue Jeffers is a credit and validation to that mystique. Influences of Buffy Sainte-Marie, Both Guthries Woody and Arlo, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan are present and brought forth in a reverent way. Sue's voice is unique, embracing, and has a Janis Joplin edge. Not a carbon of anyone, truly a one of a kind. Her lyrics are a strong reminder that folk music is or was the catalyst for free speech, political activism, and individual self expression. "One Man's Ceiling..." is a prime example of all.
Folk melodies with warm familiarity but still uniquely Sue Jeffers carry lyrics deeply rooted in emotion, experience, and message. Not the take all day to realize the meaning type of message, but ones with which this reviewer immediately related. Then comes the second listen and I realized the dawn of understanding is wider than originally perceived. For newer images unfold as this artist brings her life experiences and beliefs into her music. Her style with guitar are a compliment to the lyrics, but also propel her folk roots with individual style and personal appreciation.
Among the nine tracks, "Greenpeace Canvasser's Lament" which tells of social apathy, ignorance, and faulted excuses for lack of caring let alone involvement, contrasts and compliments the wide range of topics included on the CD. "White Bread & Tuna" an honest and introspective look at relationships when communication has a break down shows a more personal side of Jeffers. The selections have musical flow and continuity yet each song delivers a separate message. Showing the proof of the title that "One Man's Ceiling Is Just Another One's Door" is more than a title, but also an overview of the total experience of the CD. This is Acid Folk and very original. Not any sort of repeat of other artists style or work. Sue Jeffers owns her music in the traditional style of those she is influenced by. And she does them both honor and growth. Check out more about this renaissance Folk artist at her website. A revealing look and great entertainment.
Sue Jeffers-Welcome Home
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Sue Jeffers writes fiery leftist numbers with which anyone of progressive political feeling can agre...Sue Jeffers writes fiery leftist numbers with which anyone of progressive political feeling can agree. We know this, because the lyrics are printed on the inside of Welcome Home. Good thing they are, because Jeffers's voice isn't the easiest to follow. Enunciation isn't one of her strong suits: She frequently tries to cram too many words into each bar, and her lyrics are often drowned out by her guitar playing (which is excellent, both from a technical standpoint and in terms of enthusiasm). Jeffers wouldn't be the first recording artist with a message to have that message muddied a bit on record.
But if it's passion and conviction you seek in your acoustic folk singers, Welcome Home is for you. Jeffers is anti-war, pro-environment, and anti-overzealous-cops-from-Garrettsville ("Officer Tom"). She locates her targets and hits them lyrically with the precision of the smart bombs of which she so obviously disapproves. For all its flaws, Welcome Home is an important piece of work for a tense, divisive, and confusing time.
clevescene.com | originally published: January 7, 2004
Set list and times are flexible, and vary according to venue request.
in general i do 2 1 hour sets, or 3 sets at 45 min each.
The bulk of the material is original - I can do an entire show of originals to avoid PRO issues, or throw in selected covers if more appropriate.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.