Suzzy Roche returned to Bleeker Street with her daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche on February 17 for one show at The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture, hosted by WFUV’s DJ Dennis Elsas. The duo collaborated on a new album called Mud and Apples, and are touring the country together. It was great to hear the luscious harmonies and quirky lyrics that made the original Roches: Maggie, Terre, and of course, Suzzy, so beloved by their, sometimes modest, but always extremely loyal, fan base. Between songs from their new CD release, mother and daughter shared stories from their lives, tried to explain their complicated family tree, and announced that new family members had been born. They also shared for those who didn’t know, that sister, Maggie passed in January 2017, and their 96-year-old mother, Jude, died four months later.
But, despite mentions of loss, there was some hilarious banter between the performers. Lucy recounted conversations with her nieces and nephews as she put them to bed and their smarmy responses. During one conversation, Lucy asked her nephew what their next album should be called, and his answer was “mud and apples,” which, we were informed, was eventually used. They joined Elsas in a conversation about the folk scene when the Roches were first starting out. Suzzy shared that she and her sisters would go from nightclub to nightclub, playing until 5 a.m. in the mornings. “I never knew why we always played until 5 a.m.,” she wondered aloud, and then shrugged. Both volunteered that they haven’t strayed too far from the No/Ho East Village neighborhood as they live just blocks away.
During the Q & A session after intermission, Elsas read questions from the audience. One asked about what life was like on the road. Lucy responded drolly that life on the road with her mother meant that they were less than three to four feet apart at all times whether on stage, in the car, or in side by side bathroom stalls; Suzzy beamed and added that for her, it was the excitement of driving off to their next show, leaving early in the morning, and watching the sun rise. One other question concerned Lucy’s desire to enter the music field after getting her Master’s Degree and teaching in Manhattan. She said that originally she wanted nothing to do with music, but years away from the business proved her wrong. “I missed it,” she said. They also had some interesting stories about their “house concerts” — intimate musical gatherings held wherever they‘re invited to play. One rainy night, they drove all the way out to the tip of Long Island only to find out they were one day early; Lucy said that these events have been successful so far, stating “We haven’t been axe-murdered yet.”
Among their folk selections included songs from their latest CD – a protest song recalling a “facebook fight” Lucy was having; an acoustic version of the Beatles’ For No One, and two Paul Simon songs: American Tune and Bleeker Street. Suzzy sat at the piano for two songs, although announcing as she began, “I don’t play.” But, evidently, that’s not the case, as she bravely performed a lovely rendition of sister Maggie’s composition, A Prayer from their Zero Church CD.
The hall, located on the famed Bleeker Street, is officially known as The Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Center for Thought & Culture, and is a new arts organization specializing in theatre, music, film, and talks. It features a 270-seat main theatre, a 90-seat more intimate theatre, four rehearsal studios, and an art gallery.
Top Photo: Suzzy Roche and daughter Lucy at the Sheen Center
Photo Credit: courtesy of the Sheen Center
Upcoming events include:
Tom Paxton & The DonJuans, (February 23)
Civility in America: Part 2- The Media, with Chris Matthews & Larry Kudlow (May 2); and
Little Rock, a documentary play of the nine brave students during the civil rights movement in the late 1950’s (May 30 – August 5)