Suzy Bogguss took the stage last night at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis and reeled off three hits from her breakthrough 1991 country album Aces — “Outbound Plane,” “Aces,” and “Someday Soon,” in that order. They’re the kind of songs many artists might save for an encore. Where do you go from there?
In the rest of her hour-and-forty-five minute set she ranged freely over her career, playing one great song after another. There was no set list in sight as she called out the songs for her accompanists on stage. Backed by Chet Atkins protege Pat Bergeson on lead guitar and Charlie Chadwick on acoustic bass, Bogguss made every song a highlight.
She reached back to Sweet Danger, her last recording, to play “The Bus Ride” and “If You Leave Me Now” (video below from an outdoor performance in Vacaville, California). She reached forward to her forthcoming collection of American folk songs (I think) to pluck “Shenandoah.” She returned to Aces to retrieve “Letting Go,” a song that really hit home for me as my youngest daughter is about to graduate from high school.
It was a completely winning show. Bogguss even provided some local flavor, recalling her “many appearances” in Minneapolis at the Coffeehouse Extempore on the West Bank in the ’70s as she was working her way up in the business. Playing in an intimate venue before a warm crowd last night, Bogguss said she was going to beg the Dakota to have her back. If last night’s audience has anything to say about it, I don’t think that should be a problem. She stuck around for an hour after the show to chat and pose with fans who lined up to purchase her recordings.
Country music has moved on, in my view not entirely for the better, since Bogguss established herself in the late ’80s and early ’90s. If you were aware of her at the time, you may have lost track.
The gentleman I was seated with at a table up against the stage last night said that he usually came to the Dakota for instrumental jazz but that he had seen Suzy perform at A Prairie Home Companion and wanted to hear more. He found the show remarkable, as I did. I mention her now to let you know that she sounds better than ever as she continues to pursue her own muse.
Check out her tour schedule here.