You may have not heard of Suzie Vinnick. But you should. She is a very popular purveyor of folk, pop, roots and bluesy rock music. Plus, she's a great guitarist and a stunning singer as well. Don't miss this multiple Maple Award winner and Juno nominee from way up north in a rare appearance down south, right here in the Queen City.
We sat down with this talented lady to get to know her prior to her show at the DownTowne Listening Room right in the heart of our city!
Have you always played music? How did music come to be your full time gig?
I grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I sang in school and church choirs and started playing guitar when I was 9, saxophone at 11, electric bass at 13. We had a pretty intense music program at my high school and I kept very busy in concert band and wind ensemble and jazz bands and combos all through high school. I wasn't really familiar with blues music but I started going to a blues jam every Saturday afternoon with friends at the local blues bar called Buds on Broadway; it was the only place we could go to jam and play in public as we were all underage (the bar was a restaurant in the daytime so we could all legally attend). Going to the jam taught me a love for blues music and connected me with various local musicians and lead to performing local blues shows. I eventually connected with Ottawa, Ontario guitarist Tony Diteodoro (Tony performs with the Juno-Award Winning Canadian blues trio called Monkeyjunk) though a mutual music colleague named Back Alley John. Tony lived in Saskatoon for a brief time and we did shows together as a trio with drummer Craig Kaleal for about 6 months or so. We disbanded when Tony decided to move back to Ottawa. He and I kept in touch and he invited me to come out to Ottawa for the summer and do a bunch of shows with him, so I did and ended up moving there. After 7 years in Ottawa I moved to Toronto which is the biggest city in Canada and a great spot to be for music. I did some gigs and also worked as a nanny and cleaning house when I moved to Toronto to help me get by and I eventually landed a job as an administrative assistant for a film and TV music composer which was especially great. The job taught me about aspects of the music business that I wasn't as familiar with like music publishing and also taught me about music supervision, which is how you get songs placed in film and television. I learned some important administrative skills that have helped me administer my solo career.
I found my music work picking up so I was able to work less hours at a day job and work more playing music; that inevitably lead to me being able to play music full time. And here we are!
What can one expect to witness at your performance at the DownTown Listening Room on August 17th?
I'll be performing a solo acoustic show featuring some original and covers of blues and roots music from my repertoire. In between songs I like to share stories - sometimes about the songs themselves, sometimes about my travels. And I like to involve the audience by inviting them to sing along in some of the songs (but no pressure ;-)
What is next for Suzie Vinnick?
I've been working on material for my next album. The album is going to be a mix of acoustic and electric blues; my last full-length album, Me 'n' Mabel, was acoustic blues so I wanted to do something a little different but upping the volume a wee bit. Plus it's fun to with a full band and to play electric.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Cincinnati musicians?
It can be challenging to sustain any career in the arts but it can be done! Educate yourself as much as you can - attend workshops, take lessons and courses in music as you're able - there is always something you can learn. I've managed to work full-time as a musician by diversifying - at one time I performed in 5 different bands, worked as a side person (background vocals, bassist, mandolin) in a number of projects, sang jingles, placed some of my songs in music and television shows, have been hired for session work, taught workshops in blues vocals, bass guitar, songwriting. It's all been a huge blessing - it's helped me pay the bills and see the world! Music has taken me traveling across North America, to Europe and even the Persian Gulf.
Being grateful and positive helps immensely. Make sure you take time for you in between it all. :-)