Susan Weber
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Susan Weber

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"Susan Weber: Monet's Orbit"

Susan Weber delivers her art with palpable emotion. Whether live on stage or in recorded form, with a full band or solo, Weber's true grit, bluesy swagger and first-person lyrical insight offers vivid, in the moment narratives and true, present tense clarity. Sounds like a mouthful? Sure is. Grafting vines as disparate as Gordon Downie, Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde, her candor is what brings Monet's Orbit (also the name of her backing band) front-and-center for the listener. We've said before that she is a huge local talent and we're not kidding; you know you're in for a treat when she goes straight for the jugular with the leadoff track "Buffalo" -- a finger wag at everything from The Culture of Fear and cult of personality in politics, to the military industrial complex and class warfare in society. It's an awful lot to cram into one song, but given Weber's successfully world-weary delivery, it says a great deal about her. And that's saying nothing of her very capable band and their unique ability to follow her every move.

Any songwriter who can find a way to invoke Agamemnon, Aphrodite, the Pharoahs, Columbine and can roll out a line like She is the child of Gaza stripping Walter Cronkite's paradigm is bound to draw in the listener. And with that voice that tonally suggests Smith in a post-punk flight of empowered reflection? Wow. Powerful Stuff. I don't get the progressive rock sensibility that some critics in town have shouldered her with; but that kick-in-the-breadbasket, tough Midwestern girl with a chip on her shoulder thing? Yes, definitely. Monet's Orbit is a solid, 11-track effort that sinks and shudders and soars with harrowing spiritual nakedness. Highlights from this set include ""Take Me High," "Painted Moon" and a very direct "Carnival." But the set closer "She is Here" cinches it for this reviewer. Weber rides the rails of feminism with her protagonist's naked power bleeding, heading to a could-be-good, could-be-bad end. She can drown on ritalin/ She can drive a nine inch nail/ She can dream on borrowed time/ She will find her holy grail. Note to Trent Reznor: steer clear of the female subject in this song. The one in "She is Here" is likely to drive you to rhyme "hole" and "soul" yet again. - by Peter Chakerian CoolCleveland 9.26.07

"Susan Weber"

It's been a decade since singer-songwriter-guitarist Susan Weber released her last album. And anyone who heard her debut album could be forgiven for thinking that the Susan Weber of this new disc, Monet's Orbit (also the name of her trio), is a different artist entirely. The earthy, even occasionally guttural vocals, the foreboding melodies and the terse, impressionistic lyrics that paint a picture of the confusion and mystery that make human relationships difficult yet compelling suggest a Cleveland version of PJ Harvey, not the acoustic folkie-style performer Weber used to be.

The droning urgency of tracks like "Spoke" and the free-associative catalogue of specific images over driving rock 'n' roll of "She Is Here," as well as the poetic imagery and conversational phrasing throughout, evoke dynamic rock poet Patti Smith. It's an influence Weber acknowledges, one that she says changed her approach to making music.

"Definitely hearing Patti Smith, that had an impact," says Weber. "I came to her late because I wasn't really paying attention. But especially hearing her when I was tuning into poetry more and seeing how she combined poetry with very strong excellent music behind her."

Back in the '90s, Weber played around as an acoustic folkie and wrote more folk-oriented songs, then got away from the music scene for a while to raise her family.

"I got into songwriting when my kids were little," she says. "I decided I couldn't both do recording and bringing up my family and do them both well. They're now grown which is one reason I have time to devote to music. Everything is shifting from acoustic to eclectic, folk to rock, solo to band, from storytelling to a more poetic way of writing."

Another key turning point was buying an electric guitar, which was suggested to her by Pere Ubu guitarist Michele Temple, from whom she was taking lessons.

"She said she knew someone who was selling a Telecaster and would I be interested. I didn't know if I'd be interested but I'm glad I went ahead and did it. It really changed my songwriting to where it is now. This feels more native, more true."

Weber had already been doing some collaborating with local folksinger Walt Campbell, who now plays bass in her band. The two of them put an ad on local e-mail newsletter NeoPAL, found percussionist Trees Mausser and formed Monet's Orbit in 2004.

"[Walt's] got this immense palette; he listens to all different kinds of music," says Weber. "[Trees] went to Berklee and he's into musical theater and jazz. We have really good chemistry and love creating these arrangements together."

The result is the new 11-track CD recorded at Jay Bentoff's Dark Tree Studios. Bentoff is one of a number of guest musicians who helps to expand the band's sonic range on the disc, a roster that also includes folkie John McGrail, multi-instrumentalist Chris Solt and Spencer Kohan, who did the album's art work, playing sax on one track.

She says that the arrangements on the disc are "organic to the song. It's not just thrown on there. You never know where your muses will take you. I think it's a little dance between the conscious and the subconscious. If you trample the subconscious down too much, you miss a lot. The songwriting I was doing before was based a little more on rules and tips people had given me. Working this way has been very freeing for me." - Anastasia Pantsios, Free Times 9.26.07

"Plugged-in performer (article)"

Rising singer-songwriter Susan Weber has been garnering attention with her emotionally enthralling lyrics and progressive rock sounds. "I am truly excited," said the Cleveland Heights resident. "It feels as though this is the culmination of what I put on as a songwriter, and I'm so glad somebody put a Telecaster in my hand. Now I play that and the Stratocaster but it just pulls different kinds of songs out of me that I hadn't done before. I was much more in the acoustic realm and I feel truly much more at home working with a rock trio."

Along with backing band Monet's Orbit --Walt Campbell (bass) and Trees Mausser (drummer/ percussionist) -- this threesome has high expectations regarding its debut full-length release, which is expected in the spring. - Cleveland Plain Dealer (John Benson)

"New Orbits (article)"

Local singer-songwriter Susan Weber’s headlining gig at Sachsenheim Hall tonight doubles as a preview of the songs that will appear on her new album next year. The still-untitled CD -- which features tunes that have been part of her repertoire for more than three years -- is due in early spring. “We finally pinned down the 12 songs,” Weber says. “We’ve been doing a lot of recording.”

Weber and her band, Monet’s Orbit, are top-billed at tonight’s show, which also includes sets by jazz-poet Ray McNiece’s Tongue and alt-rockers Morticia’s Chair. “It’s an eclectic bill,” says Weber. “But we all have something to say.” Weber -- who released a solo acoustic album a few years ago -- sounds like a heartland version of Patti Smith. But instead of wordy poetic ramblings, Weber injects Midwest muscle into her songs. She calls the sound “lean rock.” “We have a lot to draw from,” she says. “My drummer has a background in jazz, rock, and musical theater. And my bass player is a sponge. We’re definitely a collaborative effort.” - Cleveland Scene (Michael Galluci)

"Plugged-in performer"

Rising singer-songwriter Susan Weber has been garnering attention with her emotionally enthralling lyrics and progressive rock sounds. - Cleveland Plain Dealer (John Benson)


Excellence that is truly possible, but seldom seen... that sonic and personal epiphany when things come together so well, the very earth seems to stop and take note. (full review below) - Continuum (Gary Rice, guitar consultant to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum)

"New Orbits - A Cleveland rocker caps the year by polishing off a new CD"

A heartland version of Patti Smith, Weber injects Midwest muscle into her songs. - Scene (Michael Galluci)

"Epiphany (article)"

It seems that once in awhile, we poor mortals get a glimpse of the excellence that is truly possible, but seldom seen.

Today, singer/songwriter Susan Weber, and bassist/vocalist Walt Campbell, combined in a powerhouse of eclectic musicianship and entertainment. Even though the duo represented a smaller unit of Susan's regular band, they held the rapt attention of an appreciative crowd.

Several times during the show, I was able to notice that Susan and Walt seemed to find that sonic and personal epiphany when things come together so well that the very earth seems to stop and take note.

Susan, Walt, and I all talked about this phenomenon, after the show. Musicians, (as do other professions) seem to have these moments periodically, that truly make it all worthwhile; as these two did so well today!

I understand that Susan Weber will soon be coming out with her new CD. I wish her well with it. Cleveland is fortunate to have Susan and Walt around. I hope you will catch their show one day soon. They seem to understand very well, that excellent effort produces superlative results; often even more impressive than were originally anticipated.

The elusive "epiphany" moment comes to us at different times, and in different ways. For me, it has happened often enough, both on and off-stage, that I continue to try to make what I do, as good as possible; not just for others, but for my own personal satisfaction.

That's one of the things that makes music so much fun (and so much of a challenge!) for me! I can't tell you when you'll have your epiphany, but you'll know it when you experience it!
- Continuum (Gary Rice, guitar consultant to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum)


Still working on that hot first release.



Susan Weber is a critically acclaimed songwriter and bandleader from Cleveland, Ohio.

MONET'S ORBIT, her 2007 album of original Triple A rock, was named one of the year’s top ten local releases by CoolCleveland. Weber, who holds a Free Times Music Award for Best Singer-Songwriter, is also a finalist for the 2008 award, the only woman among the five nominees. She garnered the Great American Song Contest’s Honor Award for 'Better Safe Than Sorry', an unreleased but often performed song in her eclectic repertoire.

Weber grew up as a classical pianist, migrating to acoustic and electric guitar under the guidance of Michele Temple of Pere Ubu. Her songwriting is distinguished by impressionist musical poetry delivered with clear diction over Weber’s lead guitar figures and the rock solid rhythms of her band. Critics compare her sound to The Jefferson Airplane, P.J. Harvey and a heartland version of Patti Smith in a flight of empowered reflection.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum consultant Gary Rice called a recent live performance 'excellence that is truly possible but seldom seen.’ CoolCleveland’s Peter Chakerian, praises MONET'S ORBIT as a powerful work that ‘sinks and shudders and soars with harrowing spiritual nakedness.’

Performance highlights: Ingenuity Festival, WRUW's Studio-A-Rama, Emmy Award-winning Words & Music TV, Cleveland Peace Show, and premier music clubs including the Beachland, Winchester, HiFi and Barking Spider.

Susan Weber is represented by Campbell Artist Management.


iNGENUITY Arts & Technology Festival 05 and 06
The Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
Studio-A-Rama music festival presented by WRUW
The Winchester Tavern & Music Hall
Hi Fi Club
The Symposium
Barking Spider Tavern
Chicago's No Exit
University Circle Parade the Circle Festival
Playhouse Square Palooza
Crooked River Groove TV
Words & Music TV
Sound Central TV
Random Acts of Music TV
Out and About TV
Live from Cleveland on WRUW
When the Roses Bloom Again on WRUW
Purple Cadillac on WRUW
Throat Culture Café on WCSB
Anything Goes on WAPS
The Sweet Spot on WRDL
Cleveland Music Connection on WELW
Cleveland Zoo EarthFest
Hessler Street Fair
Cleveland Peace Show
The Sachsenheim
Mansfield Arts Center
Ritz Theatre
Club Khameleon
Berea Arts Fest
The Brick Alley Theatre
Ashland Bandshell summer concert series
Dusk to Dawn Cleveland Metroparks
Kent State Folk Festival
Scott's Folkatorium
Heights Arts concert series
Venuu Off Coventry concert series