By LISA HOOVER
NORWOOD -- Grammy Award-winning country singer Suzy Bogguss, scheduled to perform in Norwood July 28, hopes to encourage the arts in small towns, particularly for kids.
Bogguss will perform as part of the Norwood Village Green concert series Sunday at 7 p.m.
The show will be family friendly, with entertainment for kids as well as adults, according to Bogguss. “I really would like to make sure that people know that this show is real across the board, great for grandmas and young families,” she said.
“The music is pretty stripped down, harmonic and guitar and bass, lots of singing. We do all my country hits as well. We just try to be very entertaining. We don’t want youngsters to get bored during the show, we want them to get a little taste, to spur them to pick up an instrument,” she said.
Bogguss has been to northern New York “a few times, not a ton,” she said. “Before I moved to Nashville I used to run around in the country.”
“I’ve played lots of festivals,” she said. She is no stranger to playing in small towns, either. “I am very used to that. It comes with all sorts of sizes of bands, I’m just bringing a trio this time,” she said.
Bogguss is known for songs like “Aces,” “Drive South,” “Someday Soon,” “Outbound Plane” “Hey Cinderella,” and “Letting Go.” She will perform songs from her new CD “American Folk Songbook," along with past hits.
Concern for Music Education
During a 2008 concert with Garrison Keillor, Bogguss noted that everyone loves to sing along to folk songs like “Red River Valley” – except the kids, who don’t seem to know the song.
“I go to the UK and Scotland and play and they know tons of songs, but a lot of times I’ll go and do a concert with everyone participating and everyone under 30 looks at you like ‘what’s that?’ That’s how we built our country,” she said.
She decided to create “American Folk Songbook” as a tribute to American folk songs that may be overlooked as music education is cut from public school programs.
“You know, it’s really a lot more serious than I think people realize. Everyone thinks they can get their kids music education on the side, but it’s part of the camaraderie thing kids have together,” she said. “
“It puts a big pit in my stomach. More and more kids are thinking about fame and going on American Idol and these shows like this and it’s very solitary. People are coming up through it and thinking I want to be the best at this, I want to excel, and I think that’s a sad thing,” she said. “At least for me the idea of singing in a group, even if it’s not particularly good, that’s a wonderful thing.”
Bogguss reminisced about grade school and the “teacher encouraging everyone to sing along.” “Singing and music are human things that are really developed. It helps us deal with stress,” she said.
“We’re making it into competition all the time, and it’s sad not to share with our fellow man. It’s just real sad to me.”
“That’s one of the reasons I did the book to go along with the CD, so you’d also have some of the background of the country to share with your kids,” she said. The CD and its companion songbook were released in 2011.
Small Town Girl
Bogguss herself grew up in a small town of about 3,000 she says. “And we’re the county seat.”
She feels there is value in a small town upbringing that kids might be overlooking these days. “I tell ya, I think about it all the time. I feel so fortunate that I got to grow up in a small town, and I still play a lot of small towns. I feel very connected to folks in small towns. It’s kind of a lost thing. We’re having to hold on to some of the values of the small towns,” she said.
“In country music there’s all these songs about ‘me and my truck’ or bonfires, and I’m finding that’s happening less and less. People are going to the big cities to go to the big concerts. They want to go to one of the monster size things with 15 acts or whatever, and that’s awesome sometimes, but it’s awesome to pull together and try to keep the arts in their community,” she continued.
“My mom was in community theater when I was growing up, and I think that was a great thing for me,” she said. “You don’t need a big production to have fun in your small town. It’s very commendable that towns are starting to refurbish their downtowns and not let it turn into big homogenized staples and chain stores.”
She won the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award in 1992, Album of the Year in 1994, and in 2005 she received a Grammy for her contribution to the Best Folk Album “Beautiful Dreamer, the Songs of Stephen Foster.” She has also received awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers for her songwriting.
Her other projects have included albums “Simpatico” with Chet Atkins and “Swing” with Ray Benson of “Asleep at the Wheel.” She has also served as either producer or co-producer for twelve of her seventeen albums.
Admission is free but a “pass the bucket” will be offered.
In the event of rain, the concert will move to the Norwood-Norfolk Central School auditorium. Audience members should check the village green site around 5:45 p.m. to determine final location, according to event organizer Joe Liotta.
If the concert does move, doors at the school will open at 6 p.m. and admission will be granted on a first-come-first served basis. Handicapped audience members can use the middle school entrance, Liotta says.
For more information visit norwoodvillagegreenconcertseries.org.