For Suzy Bogguss, a single sound is just never enough

October 14, 1994|By Bob Allen | Bob Allen,Special to The Sun

The country singer appearing with Suzy Bogguss at the U.S. Naval Academy last night was misidentified in yesterday's Maryland Live section. The performer's name is Billy Dean.

The Sun regrets the errors.

If there's one thing that can be said about Suzy Bogguss -- the Country Music Association's 1992 Horizon Award winner for best new talent -- it's that, stylistically, she's consistently inconsistent.

Bogguss made her major label album debut in 1989 with "Somewhere Between." This stunning revivalist collection of .

oldies by country legends (Hank Williams, Patsy Montana and Merle Haggard) positioned her right smack in the middle of Nashville's late-'80s New Traditionalists movement.


Since then, however, she's charted all sorts of diverse musical territory. Some of her biggest hits have come with pop- and folk-flavored songs written by leading "new-age country" artists like John Hiatt ("Drive South"), Nanci Griffith ("Outbound Train") and Matraca Berg ("Hey Cinderella.")

Bogguss recently shifted gears again with "Take It to The Limit," a track she performed and produced for the hit tribute album, "Common Thread: The Songs of The Eagles." She showed the world yet another musical face with "Old Fashioned Love," an inspired western swing tune she contributed to Asleep At The Wheel's critically acclaimed "Tribute To The Music Of Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys."

"I do have a hard time sticking with one particular sound, one particular style," the Illinois-born singer cheerfully concedes in a phone interview. "I think that would be fun sometimes. I just haven't been able to do it."

On "Simpatico," her latest album, a collaboration with country guitar legend Chet Atkins, Bogguss happily acknowledges that she's once again given free rein to her almost willful eclecticism. She covers songs by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers and Elton John.

Bogguss, 37, traces her musical versatility to when she sang in folk clubs while attending Illinois State University and later when she traveled the West playing whatever gigs she could get. Even Nashville, she started off inauspiciously, serenading crowds night after night at Tony Roma's rib joint.

Along the way, she also got stuck with the sometimes inconvenient tag of "country folkie."

"Jimmy Bowen [president of Liberty Records and Bogguss' former co-producer] used to make it sound condescending when he talked to me about that," Bogguss laughs. "It was because he'd had so much success [producing] Reba [McEntire], ya know. And Reba is a diva. Well, I'm not a diva. I play guitar and sing. I'm more a balladeer."

Bogguss says that as the years have passed she's become less preoccupied with style than with the emotional substance of her music -- especially now that she and her husband, songwriter Doug Crider, are expecting their first child, and she's started writing songs for her next album.

"I can already feel myself changing, maturing as an artist and as a person. And I want to be able to reflect that in my music over the years."

Suzy Bogguss and Billy Dead

Where: U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Hall

When: Tonight, 7:30

Tickets: $19.50

Call (800) US4-NAVY

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