Suzanne Brewer
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Suzanne Brewer

Santa Cruz, California, United States

Santa Cruz, California, United States
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter

Calendar

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Sep
23
Suzanne Brewer @ The Coach House

San Juan Capistrano, California, USA

San Juan Capistrano, California, USA

Aug
23
Suzanne Brewer @ C and P Coffee

Seattle, Washington, USA

Seattle, Washington, USA

Aug
18
Suzanne Brewer @ Insominia Coffee Co

Hillsboro, Oregon, USA

Hillsboro, Oregon, USA

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Music

Press


Somewhere between the scream of a busy espresso machine and the defiant keening of several unruly children, Suzanne Brewer laid down her rich, smoky sound. Accompanying herself on the piano, Suzanne swept through several lilting melodies, including original and cover pieces that were ideally suited to the background of a dynamic environment. Most people, talking or working, probably sipped their lattes, audibly content. To watch Suzanne, however, was to be fascinated with the incongruous nature of her performance. Her voice, assertive, textured, and emotive, delivered lyrics focused on wistful or contented reflection, creating a sound reminiscent of Fiona Apple on Prozac. Are all of her songs tempered or did she nix her controversial/aggressive set our of deference to her position as provider of chill, coffeehouse soundtrack? During each song, Suzanne had no chance for audience contact as she faced the piano that stood against the wall, again emphasizing her place as background ambiance contributor. She spoke to her listeners between selections, revealing the sweetest, most benign disposition so strangely at odds with the confidence of her singing voice. Is this her true disposition or a strategic necessity adopted to field every distraction to performance imaginable? Maybe, in the Wednesdays to come (hint, hint; your chance to see Suzanne each week), she'll spontaneously burst into that assumed "other half of her set" rife with confrontational/extrospective lyric, stunning the cacophony that is Mr. Toots into an appreciative, but momentary silence. -AM - Good Times Santa Cruz-May 2003


An entertainer as refreshing as the spring breeze is soon to perform in Gold Beach. Suzanne Brewer is a young singer-songwriter from the Santa Cruz area, where she has been sharing her talents throughout local venues for three years.
Combining her natural vocal and keyboard abilities, Brewer has crafted a unique sound that far transcends her 25 years. She has drawn inspiration from traditions as diverse as soul, jazz, folk, and even gospel, and her tunes are soothing to the ears and uplifting to the soul. Brewer's new album, "Prone to Wander," is a meditation on the restlessness of body and spirit, a thoughtful inquiry into the journey that life is.
Brewer captivates audiences of all ages with her intimate stage presence and intelligent songwriting. See and hear this bright star during her first visit to our part of the coast, at Soakers on Saturday, March 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available there, as well as through Savory Natural Foods and Java Spirit, at a cost of $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Please call 247-4596 for more information.
Join Suzanne Brewer for an evening of musical solace in the midst of these turbulent times. - Curry County Reporter-March 2003


With velvety, ghostly, airy vocals, like a cross between Sarah McLachlan and Norah Jones, Suzanne Brewer stirs Jazz, Piano Pop and Folk in a rich, sophisticated base of heartbreak, defiance, despair and poignancy. Her songs can be shuffley and lulling, they can turn the screw in your heartbreak and they can be a breeze through your hair when everything else in life seems to be ignoring you. Prone to Wander is a arresting album of subtlety and courage, softness and power.
- CDBABY


Prone to Wander captures the essence of the full creative license that goes into producing a DIY release, that which is seldom found in the major label bins. This album combines poetic songwriting and an equally elegant delivery with beautiful results. Brewer, a native Californian, writes with depth and wisdom, and the entire album presents itself as if her diary were set to music. Presented as a bit of a concept album, the liner notes state the location of each song’s conception: a Starbucks in Orange, Calif., to a bakery in Seattle. The production is light and elegantly eerie at times. Prone to Wander is a blend of many styles—folk, jazz, spiritual—all set to a mellow, funky groove. She stylistically resembles contemporaries like Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan, Goldfrapp and sometimes jazz legend Blossom Dearie. A jazz influence is apparent especially in the complex vocal phrasing found on tracks like “Again,” reminiscent of another contemporary, Kami Lyle. Despite these comparisons, Brewer adds a voice all her own. —LN
-Performing Songwriter-DIY Review Issue 77
- Performing Songwriter Issue 77


So you’ve had it with playing guitar in your bedroom. The fingertips on your chord hand are as hard and calloused as a lawyer’s heart. And your friends are tired of telling you how good you are, over and over and over.

Dude! It’s time to get a gig.

Fortunately for you, Silicon Valley has a steadily growing coffeehouse music scene offering plenty of opportunities for lofting your musical trial balloons into the public air. And an excellent first step is a little thing we call an open mic.

“Many coffeehouses run open mics, and this is where they preview artists,” says Bev Barnett, South Bay director of West Coast Songwriters (www.westcoastsongwriters.org). In addition to honing your craft with other performers, says Barnett, the open mic affords all-important networking. “Work with those new friends,” she says. “Find out if you can split a gig with them. There’s safety in numbers, and you can see how it’s done from a friend.”

Once you’re ready to try a solo gig, says Barnett, it’s important to be very clear and no-nonsense about what you’re offering.

“When you’re inquiring about a booking via email,” she says, “make it short and to the point. Put all your information in the body of the email – do not send an attachment. Instead, provide a link to where the booker can listen online, such as MySpace. Be realistic about the fact that you are just starting out. Don’t use superlatives like ‘best new singer-songwriter’ or ‘exploding on the South Bay music scene.’ Tell the booker if you can bring in an audience. If you can’t, don’t lie.”

Barnett, who’s part of a performing duo (www.barnett-newlon.com), also stresses the importance of boiling your musical style down to one sentence. “Be in control of how you describe yourself – don’t leave it up to someone else. This is the hardest sentence you will ever have to write, but it will serve you well.”

Oh, and by the way, when it comes to money? “Be grateful for your gig and accept that you can put out a tip jar,” she says, “but don’t expect to make money. Most of all, understand the economics of the venue that is hosting you. They are in business to do what? To sell coffee and sandwiches. They are hoping that you will bring more people in to buy their coffee and sandwiches. You’ll be expected to bring your own audience, and proper etiquette says that you need to compliment your host and encourage your audience to patronize the coffeehouse.”

And a few years down the line, you might get to the level of Suzanne Brewer (www.suzannebrewer.com), a Scotts Valley pianist-songwriter who’s spent most of the past six months playing coffeehouses from Vancouver to San Diego. Brewer has been gigging at local coffeehouses – including Mountain View’s Red Rock Coffee and Campbell’s Orchard Valley Coffee – for seven years.

When it comes time to approach a booker “it never hurts to have a CD,” says Brewer. “But if you don’t have that, some places will just try you out for the day.”


Brewer seconds Barnett’s suggestion on low expectations (“So many places don’t have a music budget”) and recommends similar expectations when it comes to audience attention.

“It’s frustrating sometimes,” she says. “But there are always going to be people who are there to do their thing – talking with friends, doing homework. If you’re just aware of that fact, you’ll be okay. Just keep going.”

So, let’s add this up: inattentive audiences, non-paying gigs, loud espresso machines… Is this really worth it?

“I ask myself that question many times,” says Brewer, laughing. “I think it is. At least, as a learning experience. And if you’re trying to make it a career.”

Now that we’ve given you a primer on gigs, to the right are a handful of the more active South Bay coffeehouses. Keep in mind that the coffeehouse scene is pretty volatile; policies and personnel change rapidly. So be persistent, and also keep an eye out for new coffeehouses that might be interested in starting music programs.

By Michael J. Vaughn
- The Wave Magazine


Discography

Dreams of an Insomniac (2006)
Hymns (2005)
Sketches (2004)
Prone to Wander (2002)
Eleven Songs (2000)
Sugar Seasoning (1999)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Listening to California native Suzanne Brewer seems almost intrusive into something very intimate and secretive, like a diary. Many great authors of the past kept journals, and we now have the privilege of reading their innermost thoughts in books found on shelves of a library or bookstore. Such books are treasures, as is Suzanne’s musical body of work. Reading her lyrics might remind you of flipping through pages of a leather-bound journal, each word lovingly imprinted on paper by fluid ink. Her writings meander through various emotions, and the music matches those moods, creating a contemplative and empathetic musical experience. Suzanne Brewer’s songwriting and emotional delivery are comparable to greats as diverse as Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell, and Billy Holiday. With velvety, haunting vocals and spare yet cleverly crafted piano lines, her songwriting stirs jazz, piano pop and folk into a rich, sophisticated base of eclecticism.

If you're feeling brittle, closed-hearted, numb – discover Suzanne’s music as antidote. Her yearning voice, cut-to-the-bone lyrics and dazzling melodies could explain, in part, the remarkable effect her music has on the listener, or maybe it's the joy that comes right out of the speakers and thumps you on the head. Or there's something about her intent, perhaps. She is so present in her performance, so in the moment, that you want to be just that present, too.
In the role of producer-as-lapidary and sideman on her most recent work, is the astoundingly gifted and sensitive Will Shanks. A producer with humor and intelligence, he makes each song its own world -- revealing the truth at the heart of each -- without sacrificing the narrative quality of each song. No mean trick. With complex arrangements, diverse instrumentation and achingly beautiful performances from Suzanne, the emotional catharsis of her songs are stirring. There aren't superlatives enough to describe the effect Suzanne’s music has on a body. Dump your Prozac. Discover Suzanne Brewer.



Crowdsourced by: Jenni Simmons and Carrie Duncan

Edited by: Will Shanks