Suzy Bogguss Brightens the Holidays With Christmas Tunes
Suzy Bogguss is clearly the cure for the holiday blues. Consider her concert at the legendary Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., last week. Many audience members were grimacing as they walked into the club, surly after driving through the Washington, D.C. area’s notorious bumper-to-bumper traffic, compounded by crashes chalked up to winter weather.
“Thanks so much for coming out. I was scared because it’s a Tuesday, a school night … and it’s, what, 16 degrees and feels about 90 degrees below zero?” Suzy remarked from the stage as she sipped a cup of tea. “So, how you all been?”
Calling Suzy country’s answer to Mary Tyler Moore — who famously ‘turned the world on with her smile’ — might be too corny of a way to describe her charm. Still, there was no mistaking the palatable relaxation that flowed through the crowd as Suzy appeared and chatted as if each audience member was an old friend. That was underscored midway through the show when she stepped off the stage and made her way around the club, singing ‘White Christmas‘ with various members of the audience, and occasionally stopping to hug friends and long-time fans.
From the peppy ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town‘ to the heartfelt ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain,’ Suzy kept the mood joyful and friendly, mixing in hit and holiday favorites that underscored her witty, self-deprecating humor, including ‘Eat at Joe’s‘ and ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.’
“Oh, that was a blast,” Suzy tells The Boot of working up the Grinch song, which she included on her just-released ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.’ “We got silly and theatrical, and it was really fun.”
As a small-town girl from Illinois who made her way to Nashville, sang demos, performed at Dollywood, and then landed a record deal and CMA Awards, Suzy is clearly at ease with where her music career has taken her since her 1988 chart debut with ‘I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart.’
“My fan base is not huge but that’s more comfortable for me,” says Suzy. “It’s certainly more comfortable than in the early 1990s when thing were booming for us. When you play big venues, it’s not possible to do a lot of things, such as signings after a show. You lose a lot of that feedback and accessibility. Those are the reasons that I came into this business.”
That’s also why she and her band recorded the new album, saying that she finds fans often want to take something home after a holiday show, so that the music becomes part of their own family’s tradition.
“The 10 songs are all played by the people you’ll see on the stage,” she notes. “So, it’s a nice personal touch.”