Jan. 20, 2005

Sing Along With Susan Werner

By Randy J. Klodz

Chicago resident Susan Werner sings songs that people like to sing with her. Chicago-area residents can sing along with her live on Jan. 22 at Beverly Arts Center in Chicago.

And sing along people have, literally, with Susan Werner’s March 2004 album “I Can’t Be New,” a collection of songs Werner styled in the fashion of piano-bar tunes from the 1930s and 1940s, something that is in high demand. The singer / songwriter / pianist often receives inquiries from fans requesting her songbook to “I Can’t Be New,” so fans can learn and play her tunes on their own home pianos.

Though Werner has only lived in Chicago for a handful of years—she previously called Philadelphia home for 13 years—Werner has already infused the spirit of Chicago into her work. The television news media has picked up on Werner as she performed during a live broadcast of the noon airing of WGN News on Jan. 11, exposing her piano-driven style to a mass audience.

Not only did Werner reach a large portion of the Chicago viewing area, Werner may have also won over some of WGN’s news personnel. “They’re happy to have a live performer, I think it enlivens the whole routine, because the news people seem to do the same kind of presentation every day, and if they have a musical performer in, it creates some variety for them,” Werner said of her performance.

Her “Stay on Your Side of Town” was inspired by Werner’s experience while sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley Field during a Chicago Cubs/Chicago White Sox game, and as a Cubs fan, she was trying to avoid a familiar Sox fan with the lyrics: “I get the north side where the Brownstones are / You get the south side and the big blues bar / Cross the river and you’ve come too far / Stay on your side of town.”

Werner said that she expected to appear at Beverly Arts Center performing with her piano along side a bass player. While many Werner fans may have gotten used to her guitar-strumming days, she’s more concerned this time around with just getting her lyrics heard. “As a song writer the words are the most important part of the presentation,” Werner said. “If I have a drummer, the words get buried beneath all the activity, so I try to keep it simple so the songs and stories can communicate.”

Beverly Arts Center is at 2407 W. 111th St. Tickets for this all-ages show are listed for $25 each, with showtime scheduled for 8 p.m. For more information on Susan Werner log on to www.susanwerner.com.

Susan Werner Photo: Hayley Murphy