The Black Swan Folk Club
Low Rent District - Steve Suffet Experience companionable WYSIWYG [what you see is what you get] old-school folk music from this "old-fashioned folk singer in the People's Music tradition."
Steve Suffet -- (LOW RENT DISTRICT) (Own Label) A New York native, Steve describes himself as "an old-fashioned folk singer in the People's Music tradition," with close on 40 years' experience and a repertoire accumulated over that time that mixes topical-political folk with songs of America's industrial heritage and old-time, blues, ragtime, gospel -- sometimes unashamedly rewriting his sources as he fancies (very much in the aforementioned tradition, then). This CD, Steve's third, has a welcoming (and yes, distinctly "low-rent" -- and proud of it!) demeanour, with an unpretentious, no-frills down-home recording that just presents Steve and a bunch of friends performing exclusively for you, right there in your very living-room. Not for Steve the manufactured product of the folk-degree perfectionist or the studio engineer -- this is the real deal: folk music as the people's entertainment, accessible and relevant but also suitably thought-provoking where required. Steve's own songs subscribe to the Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger ethos too: they include a rousing tribute to working men and women (Let's Sing), a topical rewrite of The Blind Fiddler (The Blind Veteran), some perversely self-deprecatory innuendo (High Ballad Man) and a neat little commentary on urban gentrification (the title track). Steve also turns in a handful of adept and authentically realised covers, which include three lesser-known Guthrie songs and Si Kahn's Aragon Mill. On this recording Steve's front-room friends include among the supporting vocalists Anne Price (with whom he's touring the UK later this month), with a handful of other musicians on banjo, fiddle, harmonica and piano at various points (and quite naturally and genially) augmenting Steve's own plain-styled but effective guitar playing. And the whole gathering (plus audience!) gets to join in on the live bonus cut. The inevitable caveat will be that folkies of a more contemporary predisposition who would revel in (or at least expect to hear) hard-hitting strong language or more overt Bush-bashing rhetoric must look elsewhere -- but there's still much to admire and enjoy in Steve's brand of social and political comment, which belongs unequivocally to what might best be termed the old school of protest-folk, determinedly -- and unashamedly -- old-fashioned... and timeless in its own way. Ça suffet, indeed, you might say!
Low Rent District, Steve's third CD, was released September 25, 2008.
It is currently available from CD Baby, as are his two earlier CDs.