They make music, despite complications

December 18, 1997|By Judith Green | Judith Green,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Sometimes Hot Soup! finds it difficult to rehearse.

With members of this female folk trio residing in different communities, going their separate ways as well as performing together, the logistics are complicated.

Last week, for instance, they had a gig at Baldwin's Station in Sykesville, which offers an acoustic music series on Wednesdays. But getting together beforehand was a problem, with Sue Trainor on the road in North Carolina and Christina Muir in Massachusetts. Sue Ribaudo, who has a son in school, was at home in Towson.

So they had a quick rehearsal in the afternoon and used the sound check -- the last-minute run-through for microphones and amplifier levels -- to make a few musical adjustments. Then they performed.

Tomorrow,when they perform at the 333 Coffeehouse at the Unitarian Church in Annapolis, it'll be another reunion. In the week since they last saw one another, Muir has been a solo act in Laurel, Timonium and Pikesville; Trainor has sung in Bowie; and they've done a duet job in Reading, Pa.

After the holidays, their travels continue. The trio teaches in Catonsville and performs in Springfield, Mass., and Silver Spring; Trainor and Muir perform at Starbucks coffee shops; Trainor and Ribaudo perform every other Friday at Marley Station in Glen Burnie.

"Sometimes we tape ourselves and exchange the tapes to practice with," says Trainor, 46, whose home in Owen Brown village in Columbia is a hive of folk-music activity. She is best known in Columbia as producer of the Folkal Point's weekly series of traditional music events at the Coho Grill in Hobbits Glen Golf Club.

The members of Hot Soup! are singers, instrumentalists and songwriters, and the group, formed two years ago, gives them an opportunity to do it all. Eight of the 15 songs on their recently released debut CD, "Hot Soup!," are by the performers.

The others range from pieces by contemporary colleagues such as Michigan's Joel Mabus and Australia's Judy Small to the close harmonies and scat vocals of the Depression-era Boswell Sisters.

"We collect and interpret other people's music to augment the repertory," says Trainor. "And we look for things that a trio treatment will enhance."

They accept being wandering musicians as a way of life.

"When you're a musician, you've got to be creative," says Ribaudo, 46, a former teacher who moved to Maryland from Cincinnati three years ago when her husband, Victor, a hospital administrator, took a position with Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore.

Ribaudo plays guitar and mandolin, and provides percussion from a stock of Irish drums, African talking drums and shakers.

Muir, at 37 the group's junior member, is the daughter of a well-known folk musician, Ann Mayo Muir. She moved to Annapolis from Connecticut three years ago and got to know Trainor from her work as a publicist for local folk music performers.

Trainor, whose solo work in 1996 won her a Wammie award from the Washington Area Music Association, is active as a composer-performer of music for children.

Trainor has lived in Columbia since 1976. She was the first manager of Columbia's Town Center and has worked at Slayton House in Wilde Lake village and the Barns at Oakland Mills.

Folk music preoccupies both her and her husband, Jim Simpson, whom she credits with encouraging her to return to live performance about 10 years ago. Simpson manages the Hot Soup! Web site. The couple lives on Wind-harp Way -- itself named for a folk instrument, sometimes called the Aeolian harp -- and drive cars with matching license plates: FOLKIE (his) and FOLKIES (hers).

The trio runs workshops at Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe in Catonsville in the winter. In the summer, members can be found teaching and performing for Common Ground, the traditional arts series based at Western Maryland College in Westminster.

All these events are interconnected through two local groups, the Folklore Society of Greater Washington and the Baltimore Folk Music Society, where Ribaudo is a member of the board. Trainor is active with the North American Folk Alliance, whose office is in Washington.

These networks are part of what she calls the "folk underground," which brings together old and new folk musicians with aficionados of world music, New Age music, acoustic music, Celtic music, country music and other genres that showcase the gentle blend of voice and acoustic instruments.

"We play music and promote it a lot -- sometimes I feel like an infomercial," says Trainor. "This is our job but it's great to have a job that's so much fun."

For information on Hot Soup! performances, workshops and recordings, call 410-381-2834 or 301-982-9418; or visit the Web site at http//

Pub Date: 12/18/97

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