Suzy Bogguss, country western singer
There is nothing “bogus” about Suzy Bogguss – she’s the real thing! Her name is spelled Bogguss, pronounced BOG-gus. Suzy performed onstage at the historic Avalon Theater in downtown Grand Junction, Colo., on Saturday, April 16. It was a benefit concert for MOSAIC, a non-profit, international organization, hosted by their Grand Junction office and local sponsors. Humorist Andy Nelson was the Master of Ceremonies. Nashville Guitarist, Pat Henderson, accompanied her with guitar, mandolin and harmonica. She played many of her hits, including “Eat at Joe’s” and “Someday Soon.”
This multi-talented, country-western singer is from the small farming town of Aledo, Ill., 160 miles west of Chicago, population 3,700, whose biggest annual event is their Rhubarb Festival in early June. This year marks their 20th celebration with 12,000 free rhubarb seeds to be given away, and 3,000 homemade rhubarb pies to be baked for sale by the local ladies. Their ad reads, “You can learn how to do the official festival dance, ‘The Rhubarb Shuffle,’ with the first practice scheduled at Myrna’s Studio.”
Besides singing, Suzy shared with her audience how she had worked to make it in the music business. Starting out in the small Illinois town, growing up in a music-loving family, learning to play musical instruments, focusing on the guitar in high school, and later in college, Suzy was determined to achieve her ultimate goal, Nashville. She wrote songs, yodeled, sang and played her guitar. She played for clubs, bars, coffee houses and festivals, while gaining invaluable stage experience performing before many different audiences.
For five years, she and her guitar drove around the west, living in her truck’s camper to save money while building a growing, loyal, cross country fan base. In her travels, Suzy met many other country music people onstage, who hired her for their opening acts. Many became life-long friends, including mentor Chet Atkins and others. Married to songwriter and music producer, Doug Crider, Suzy left the music scene in 1995 for a year to have a son, Ben Crider.
In her most recent biography posted on her official website, award-winning Suzy especially credits Ray Benson and his band, “Asleep at the Wheel” of Austin, Texas for “saving her life.”
“I was opening for them in 1984 at this huge Montana dancehall near Yellowstone Park. The audience was the summer crew who had worked at the park and at the ski resorts in the area. They wanted to dance and I’m up there singing with my guitar just trying to make gas money. The crowd started getting rowdy. Ray walked out on stage.
The crowd went nuts and started cheering. Ray holds up his arms, looks at them and says, ‘Alright you guys. Let the girl play. She needs to get her pay for the night.’ After he walked off they were nice to me. Of course, he came on after me with a nine-piece band and blew the roof off the house.”
Suzy recently finished recording her new album, “Swing,” with Ray Benson and his band, “Asleep at the Wheel,” at his Bismeaux Studio in Austin. “It was such a treat for me to play with those musicians.”
Ray Benson is equally complimentary of her versatile talent. He said, “Suzy is also one of the few singers who connect with audiences in the country, folk, pop and jazz worlds easily and successfully.”
After her Avalon show, Suzy was headed back to her home in Nashville and some area concerts. In June, she and two other musicians and songwriters, Gretchen Peters and Matraca Berg, will travel to the U.K. for a 15-day tour called, “Wine, Women and Song.”
After the show, we lined up with other fans in the lobby waiting to buy a CD, or have a picture taken with her. Although she’d finished a 2-1/2 hour performance, including a standing ovation resulting in three more songs, it was almost 10:00 p.m. Yet, beautiful Suzy was charming and gracious, speaking unhurriedly to everyone waiting in line and posing for pictures with her.
I asked if she knew our friend and musician, Joey Miskulin, who also lives with his family in Nashville. In addition to being a writer, a producer with his own recording studio, a celebrated musician who plays the accordion, he’s “CowPolka Joe,” one of the “Riders in the Sky.” Suzy said that she did know Joey personally, so we chatted about him while my husband, Ray, took our picture together.
Note to Suzy Bogguss: Thank you for your great performance. Hope you come back soon to Grand Junction, Colo., or Moab, Utah (where she played last year). And when you do, Ray and I will be in the audience, that’s for sure!
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