Women of the Northwest

Susie McLerie, a Heart and Soul for Folk

October 24, 2023 Susie McLiery Episode 79
Susie McLerie, a Heart and Soul for Folk
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Women of the Northwest
Susie McLerie, a Heart and Soul for Folk
Oct 24, 2023 Episode 79
Susie McLiery

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Welcome to women of the northwest where I interview ordinary women leading extraordinary lives.

It’s my privilege today to interview Susie McLiery, who is an avid folk musician who has had a myriad of fascinating experiences playing with Spud Siegel, Kid Siegel, Polly Norris, David Quinton, holding dances at the Netel Grange in Clatsop County and playing at the Jewell Harvest Festival.

She and her partner Jim Boswell played with Michael Zametkin and Jim Fink.

Susie was a programmer for KMUN from 1984 until recently with the Gospel Music Show and became a jack of all trades at the station, eventually becoming the program director in ’87. 

As a kid she lived in Vermont and spent summers at Martha’s vineyard where they had a house. It was there that she was introduced to folksters such as Tom Rush, Maria Muldar, Chambers Brothers, the Islanders and The Weavers. James Taylor was her neighbor.

Be sure to click the link to the transcript where I’ve put links to most of the people she references.

Subscribe to the Women of the Northwest podcast for inspiring stories and adventures.
Find me on my website: jan-johnson.com

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Welcome to women of the northwest where I interview ordinary women leading extraordinary lives.

It’s my privilege today to interview Susie McLiery, who is an avid folk musician who has had a myriad of fascinating experiences playing with Spud Siegel, Kid Siegel, Polly Norris, David Quinton, holding dances at the Netel Grange in Clatsop County and playing at the Jewell Harvest Festival.

She and her partner Jim Boswell played with Michael Zametkin and Jim Fink.

Susie was a programmer for KMUN from 1984 until recently with the Gospel Music Show and became a jack of all trades at the station, eventually becoming the program director in ’87. 

As a kid she lived in Vermont and spent summers at Martha’s vineyard where they had a house. It was there that she was introduced to folksters such as Tom Rush, Maria Muldar, Chambers Brothers, the Islanders and The Weavers. James Taylor was her neighbor.

Be sure to click the link to the transcript where I’ve put links to most of the people she references.

Subscribe to the Women of the Northwest podcast for inspiring stories and adventures.
Find me on my website: jan-johnson.com

[00:02] Jan: Okay, I am here with Susie McLiery and looking forward to a fun interview because she is such a fascinating person. I think you'll enjoy this. All right, you have been on KMUN local radio station for years, but what kind of things have you done on there? What drew you to doing radio and what kind of music did you play?

[00:59] Susie: Music has always been my biggest love. And when we started KMUN, Harriet Basquez was our manager. She got me and she said, you're going to do a radio show? And I said, I don't know anything about it. That's okay, we show you. Well, we had all been playing gigs. We'd been playing little benefits for KMUN.

[01:23] Jan: You and who played?

[01:25] Susie: We Spud Siegel, Kid Siegel, Polly Norris, David Quinton. A bunch of us would just get together and play. And we had a group that played dances at Natal Grange, Joseph Stevenson. And the group was called the Green Country Dance Band. And there were quite a few of these people involved who I mentioned. And we would just play for dances, and we would practice. So, every Sunday we'd go to Joseph Stevenson's house, an a-frame in the country, and have a potluck and play music for three 4 hours and practice. And Joseph was the ringleader or the dancing master, and he would teach all the dances and call the dances. So. he would corral us into these gatherings where we would practice. And after the practice, we'd have one dance a month at a grange. And so, this led to more musical associations singing together.

[02:24] Jan: What kind of musician, what kind of instruments were you playing?

[02:28] Susie: Oh, I played auto harp and mandolin.

[02:31] Jan: Yeah.

[02:31] Susie: And there were so many people playing guitar, we didn't need another guitar.

[02:35] Jan: Right.

[02:36] Susie: And my friend Polly Norris, who was a part of a group I was in called the Goodnight Loving Gals, played music with Claudia. Her name was Claudia Brewer at the time, and she married later, and her name changed to Michelle. But Polly, Claudia and I were in a singing group, and so we would sing for festivals like the Jewell Harvest Festival or the Arc Restaurant would hire people to play on Sunday brunch. And we just did folk songs because.

[03:10] Jan: It was fun, wasn't it? Yeah, it just feeds your soul.

[03:12] Susie: Plus, we all had young children, and this was some way to get away from home and take our music out of the house to somebody new. And the brunches at the Arc paid, so we were actually making a little money. And when you're a homebody raising little kids, you have no way to make money. So, it was a real privilege for us to be invited out. 


But we also did the ship in, which was a hootnanny type of thing where we just sang and played with Spud or Joseph or a number of different musicians who joined us. And that's where I met Boswell, Jim Boswell, who was my partner for many years. He played the guitar and my sister actually learned from him a lot of fancy chords when she lived in Astoria. So, she was like, show me everything, you know, show me every chord. And so, she didn't know how to make these fancy jazz blues chords that were barred. 


And we all just, Jim Fink played the fiddle and Michael Zametkin played the mandolin and Boswell played guitar. And they had a little group that was called Filet Desoul and they would play at the Triangle Tavern or various places like Happy Hour Music. And it was just a destination. It was somewhere to go from our living room to a home or to out of the home to play for people. 


And anyway, this morphed into KMUN because we were available, we were musicians. And Harriet was smart because she recognized all the people here who loved music or played music. They were the natural ones to pick to be a programmer. So, when I became a programmer, I had lived in Jewell and the station started in 1983, but I did not move to town till 1984, so I really couldn't be a part of the radio station. But first thing I did was sub for someone who had a gospel music program on Sunday,  and I would get a ride into town with Jim Boswell and we would go to the laundromat after the show.

[05:29] Jan: Get your chores done.

[05:30] Susie: Yeah, get the chores done, then go back to Jewell. But anyhow I had a chance to learn radio and do this gospel show. They had had somebody else who was proselytizing on the air, which is a nix thing. At any radio station, you can't be a part of a certain religion and press that out. You have to be what is it? More open to all beliefs. And so, the gospel music show was just an hour long and I preceded Carlos Welsh who came on at 1:00 and did old and new dreams. And his show was a mix of everything. He was my mentor. I was totally terrified of being alone in that radio station by him.

[06:14] Jan: Understandably there's a lot of knobs and.

[06:16] Susie: A lot of sort of my security blanket. And he would come in and I'd bring him a cookie or something, beg him to stay while I was on the air. And then he would be before me. That's right. And I would be after him and he'd say, Boz, don't muff. I'm going across the bridge because he lived in Washington and I can't turn around on the bridge, so if you mess up, I can't help you. So, then I had more or less time by myself at the station just to do a 1-hour program. Which took a lot of training.

[06:49] Jan: Yeah, planning, big learning curve.

[06:51] Susie: But I knew a lot of old timey songs.

[06:54] Jan: So, you'd actually play your own music, or you would just no records.

[06:57] Susie: Records. This was all records.

[06:59] Jan: This was before CDs?

[07:00] Susie: Yeah, we had no CDs till after something like ‘88, I believe, like 1987 or ‘88. We were moved into the new station by then. And anyway, I just volunteered. I would do one program a week, and then I got to do a folk show in the morning, and I can't really recall what the schedule was like, but I just know I was always on call for a sub for somebody else. And you learned to be a jack of all trades. I mean, if there was no jazz programmer, no classical music programmer or whatever, then the person in charge would get a hold of you and say, hey, I need such and such. And we were capital V volunteer, so we went any which way that people asked us. 


And then I learned about production and real to real tape. That was fascinating to me. I love Splicing tape with a razor blade. Oh, I just loved it. It was so fun because it was so precise, 

[08:04] Jan: but finding, oh my gosh that would be something to learn how to do. Just because it's not like now when you're editing, it's all visual and you can just click here and click there and cut it out and whatever, but you're not actually what if you cut it at the wrong place and you're not getting

[08:19] Susie: so, it was really interesting. I got more involved in the station and decided I wanted to work there at one point, and my kids were still pretty young. And anyway, I got hired as the program director in ‘87, and I stuck with that, which is where you train people, you teach them how to do radio, and then you find a slot for them, and then you go through meetings which discuss whether the station wants to save this program or whether that wouldn't be appropriate, or if that programmer wasn't ready yet, then we would ask them to still train more and stuff we were teaching, and I enjoyed that a lot. 


I met all these people from all over the community who were interested, and all I can say is I knew a lot of people who played music, so I tapped their shoulders. Spud. Roland White, Kid Siegel, a list of people. David Crabtree, Roger McKay. Roger's daughter Zetti came on the radio at an age ten or eleven, and because of children's programs, Anne Schaefer had started the Skinner Inc. Program, and she was all the way from Seaside. Other people were from across the river. We had Elaine Myers when I lived in Jewell, she was giving us rainforest gardening. And I'll never forget the influence she had impact. She was talking off the top of her head like we are now about her knowledge. And I would go into a room when I lived in Jewell and shut the door and tell the children, don't.

[10:06] Jan: Tell me you have don't bother me. This is my time.

[10:11] Susie: This is my little half an hour. And I would be engrossed in her show. That's what made me want to do radio, because I wanted to meet her. The first time we had a benefit was at the Coaster Theater in Cannon Beach for KMUN. I went to the benefit because she had some pottery she was donating, and I wanted to meet her. So, after I met her, I realized I really have to help the station. Then I moved into town, and it was a matter of seconds or something before that became home. That station has my heart because it's been a part of us for 40 years.

[10:53] Jan: Yeah.

[10:54] Susie: And I can remember one of my kids was very young and I would say, you can't speak to me if you're in the air room. Unless I have my headphones off, then I'm not on the mic. Because you always had to wear headphones on the mic. So, if my headphones are off, you can talk. Any one time I said to him, do you want to talk now? I'll put you on the mic. And I turned on the mic and nothing was said. He couldn't think of what to say, so there was nothing. I mean, I gave him a chance to speak if he felt like, you know the kids used to love to read stories on the radio, so they'd be guests. And we're still doing that today.

[11:32] Jan: And that's a fun thing about KMUN and it's just how diverse it is and how open they are to new kinds of all ages.

[11:41] Jan: Programs and whatever. I just came across 1989 CD recording of bedtime stories with my kids that are now in their 40s. So, it was really fun for them to listen to.

[11:56] Susie: They were reading with you?

[11:57] Jan: Reading.

[11:58] Jan: They were reading with Ed.

[11:59] Susie: They were reading with Ed.

[12:00] Jan: For Ed Johnson, actually, with Debbie Twombly.

[12:04] Susie: Oh, of course. Debbie took on the Skinnamarink program after Anne had retired because she left and moved from the and so it's.

[12:12] Jan: Just really fun yeah. To have that kind of like, oh, you get to hear your little voice and you don't. I mean, because we didn't have cell phones back there to do videos of your kids.

[12:22] Susie: And I still have a lot of these cassette tapes. They play just fine. I've listened to some old Red stories and my children read stories. They were guests on other people's programs. And it's magic to be able to hear that.

[12:37] Jan: It's so cool.

[12:38] Susie: It is.

[12:39] Susie: So KMUN became a resource. First off, it was just like going to university. We had the best library. Anything you wanted to find was there. We didn't have the internet, we didn't have cell phones, we had a library, and it was donated by most of people who loved the station. They gave their records to us. And we had real to real tape that came in the mail that we would put on the air for calling. No, not calling. What was that show? Radio Moscow. We had weird old real to real tape that we would erase, zip it and then turn that into a program for bedtime stories or prerecorded shows. 


And we had all these afternoon shows like Dust Jackets by Sylvia Berryman who went into a lot of production to pre produce her show and not do it just live, but she read to us adult stories and we had late night stories. We had more than just children's programs and all these wonderful public affairs shows like is his Name Chuck and Barbara McLaughlin and people from the South County from Tillamook, they would come all the way to the station, travel almost an hour just to get up there and do a live program. 


And Chuck Mcgloffin loved jazz, so he would do a jazz program and then stay for the next show, which was this show called PeaceWorks. And he really had his finger on the pulse of what was going on politically and he spoke out. He was very important to the station because we didn't have anybody else like that. Then we had the people who did the Women's Feminist Agenda, Janet Stevenson, Karen Malin and those folks were very active. Mary Sellin, these were early people on KMUN who had some kind of an opinion or a view that needed to be aired. Then later we had health shows, we had Anne Goldeen and Barry Sears and Roberta Michaels did a program gardening, health and then the gardening shows. Yeah, so there were a lot of these magazine shows besides the music shows. 


And then we kept our schedule almost all these 40 years about the same, starting with morning classics, folk music in the middle of the day, jazz at dinner time, and then all kinds of strange like blues or free form or stuff at night. And at one point at KMUN, we had not enough people to do programs and so we had turned the radio off. I don't know if you remember that there was nothing, there was dead air from like after the folk show, there'd be nothing for about 4 hours until we came on with news. We didn't have NPR, then we had Pacifica now, so we didn't have satellite, we had to create it ourselves or rebroadcast a tape from KBOO. And so, we had interesting programs. And I remember we used to rebroadcast a music show that was by Erin Hood, that's Laurel Hood's dad, and he was a jazz musician in Portland and produced a show for KBOO. So, then we got permission to air that because KBO was our founder, more or less the people who taught us how to do what we it just it became the center, I think, of our yeah. Because all of a sudden everyone knew somebody they never met before. They just heard them on the air. Like, my friend Elaine, she became a really good friend. But I would have never met her if it hadn't been for radio. And she used to come to my house and bring a sandwich and a thermos of tea and eat her supper before she went to KMUN to do a and, you know, we just became really close friends. So, I missed those days. I missed the days pre satellite.

[16:46] Jan: Yeah, it was a whole different.

[16:49] Susie: We had to do it ourselves. It was very the rudimentary, the beginnings.

[16:54] Jan: Yeah.

[16:55] Susie: But anyway, music was always in me way back when I was a kid. So, I had a lot of experiences through my sister who knew a lot of musicians and made her path in music when she was 20 years old.

[17:10] Jan: And where did you grow up?

[17:11] Susie: I lived in New Jersey as a child and my father worked for the telephone company. He was not a musician, but his mother taught piano. And I think that's where the rudiments of our music came from.

[17:24] Jan: Okay.

[17:24] Susie: And my mother never played music, but she wanted us to go to music school.

[17:28] Jan: Okay.

[17:29] Susie: So, when we were in elementary school or middle school that age, she started us in music classes. And that was after school, of course, she would drop us off at the School of Music for about an hour.

[17:41] Jan: What a gift.

[17:42] Susie: Jeannie was four years older. She had perfect pitch. She definitely had the gift born into her. And she was playing Mozart at home, practicing her little sonatas on the piano. I wasn't as disciplined as Jeannie. Jeannie had asthma as a child and couldn't do sports. So, she was really homebound, and she loved reading books, and she loved playing music. And she liked to teach me and so she'd say, I do this, you do that.

[18:13] Susie: She taught me harmony. She said, let's learn these songs. And we would play a record over and over and over again till we figured out what the chords were and then learn the parts. And mostly it was country music. Like the Carter Family.

[18:27] Jan: Yeah.

[18:28] Susie: This was really strange to my parents. They were into classical or this is like, why did you sing these songs? Like, Mother's not Dead, She's Only Asleeping. Or cornball ball songs like that. But we just loved the way they sounded. And it was easy music. It was only, like, three chords. It wasn't easy chord changes. 


And so, we would learn these songs and from the radio. We lived in Vermont part of the time for summers and winter vacations because we had really good friends who owned a farm up there. And we'd turn on the radio and you could hear Wheeling, West Virginia. Well, we never heard that before. And my parents never played country music. So where are we going to get it from? Well, we listened to amazing know, like Little Jimmy Dickens and the Grand Ole Opry. We didn't know what the Grand Ole Opry was, but we knew the music from there. And so, we learned tons of songs like what's that song? Oh, Jimmy Brown, the Newsboy. All kinds of wonderful folk songs. And that's way we found out about bluegrass and country songs. So, we just started teaching ourselves. 


There were tunes like I remember when Green Onions was a popular tune on the radio, and it was just blues, and it was just a four bar or what do they call blues. And it was so basic, it was so simple that my sister picked it up by ear and we would play tunes like that. Then when we got older, my mother and father bought a piece of land on Martha's Vineyard for a summer house. We had the Vermont farm for wintertime, but the friends there also would have liked to come to the Vineyard because it was ocean and vacation in the summertime, and it was too hot and humid in New Jersey to stay there all summer. So, we had to kind of escape to the north. 


And anyway, Mother decided we had to have a place up on the Vineyard. After trying out other seaside places like Nantucket one year and the New Jersey shore. But they bought five acres of land and built a house on it. At that time in the was only $1000 an acre. Yeah, this was not a luxury place. This was a little cabin on a hill. It was pretty basic. You didn't have any furnace. All you had was a fireplace and you had a pump for water. So, if the electric blew because we had a hurricane, there was no water and we learned to rough it. We loved that. That was the thing about the Vineyard that we loved the most. It was not a luxurious place like people think of it today. It was an escape from society. We were free there. We were never disciplined. We just go to the beach, we'd go swim, we'd go to the pond know, we'd sail and we're just free spirits there. So, I never wanted summer to stay there year-round. But my father had to work, and we had to go to school. So, we would go back to New Jersey. And eventually, after we all grew up and my dad retired then they moved there permanently to live as year-round residents. But that was past my time because at that time I was in college. They were living on the Vineyard then. So, I went to college in Boston. And in Boston. Near Boston is Cambridge. There was a folk club called the Club 47 and that's where I heard all kinds of live folk music.

[22:09] Jan: And then your heart was singing.

[22:11] Susie: That's right. And we had already sang for years up on the Vineyard. Little beach parties. There were people at these beach parties who are today now well-known folksters who are like Tom Rush, Maria Muldar and her husband, Jeff Muldar. They were part of the Jim Questen Jug Band. And these people would come out to the Vineyard and play a little folk club that had started out there, which was an offshoot of the Club 47. So, if somebody came to the Club 47 in Cambridge, Mass, then they would get a gig a few days later up on the Vineyard. And we got to meet these people because it was very unorganized. It was not formal, it was casual. And like, the Chambers Brothers came to the Vineyard and I got to meet those guys.

[23:02] Jan: Well, and you had a photo with James Taylor.

[23:05] Susie: We learned he was a neighbor, and we met the family because there was a community center in Chilmark up on Martha's Vineyard, little kind of rural community center. There was no store in that area where we lived, just not even a gas station. There was a post office and a community center. And the community center used to organize community sings once a week. On a Thursday, they would have a square dance on a Saturday. They would have movies that you could go watch on a different day of the week because you're really isolated. There was no television back then. And we learned to get together at these community events, and that's when the Taylors showed up. So we got to know our neighbors, and they were all singing, the whole family. They were young at that time. Twelve and 14 when I met James. He was about that age, and his brother was a few years younger. Livingston, they were my closest friends. And James had a sister, Kate. We would all show up at these dances or community sings and listen. And then they would have a community concert once a year with several groups who were older than we were. There was a group called The Islanders, and they sang wonderful songs like Madrigals and all kinds of folk songs that we learned from them. And this was our introduction, I guess, to folk music. My parents didn't know anything about that, so we were listening to the records of The Weavers.

[24:42] Jan: Did your parents come to appreciate that music?

[24:46] Susie: Well, they kind of had to didn't.

[24:47] Jan: Because you were doing it all the time.

[24:49] Susie: Yeah, they would have a party and they would ask us. We'd be upstairs singing together, and they'd say, come downstairs and sing for them. Sing for these people. And that was a practice for us to sing in front of other people. And we really didn't have the right repertoire, but we would sing a few songs that we knew, and then we'd be excused and go away. And the family would say, oh, isn't that cute? Isn't that nice? But they didn't realize, I don't think, how important this music was for us. They thought it was a passing phase. Right. And it wasn't. Because my sister turned into a lifelong, she also went to the college I went to in Boston. And it was at that time only a two-year college. It was called Pine Manor. It was part of the Wellesley campus. Wellesley. And it was in that town. But then the campus moved. After my sister graduated, she went on to study French at the Paris Sorbonne because she really wanted to further her French. And while she was there, she met a guy who sang in the street. And played guitar

[25:58] Jan: with his guitar case open

[26:01] Susie: asked her to sing with him. And they were listening to old tapes of the American what do you call that? Trying to remember now old tapes from the Library of Congress. And they would send me tapes of this music because they had borrowed records from a library. And then they would record these things, mail them to me. So, this is how I learned some of the music that they were singing because I never got to see them or hear them. They were away.


So, anyway, eventually, after their travels, they lived in England for several years. They cut a record with a company in Vermont because they were invited to play at the Newport Folk Festival. They had recorded with Folk Legacy records in Vermont. And those folks were recording a lot of various guests who had been at Newport. So, my sister Jeannie and her husband at the time was Sandy Darlington, recorded their first albums there. Then they were in England, and there was a company called Topic Records which copied the record they recorded in Vermont on Folk Legacy and issued it in England. And then, that was kind of a connection. So, all these people back I'm talking about 1965, were introduced to Jeannie and Sandy doing a Charlie Poole tune. And this made an impact, believe it or not, on people in the United States who loved this kind of music. Well, Jeannie had taught herself how to play the fiddle. She never had a violin lesson. She only had classical piano. She told me later she never liked piano. She didn't like the sound of it. She just likes plucked strings. So, she taught herself everything on guitar and fiddle. And she would copy again these records that she listened to like Charlie Poole playing his version of a song like Didn't He Ramble or all these wonderful obscure songs. She passed them down to me, and that's where I learned it. 


And then she had friends when I was in college. She knew through the music business in England, she knew Ralph Rinsler. And Ralph was a manager for Doc Watson. And he was also the one who booked him on tours to the Club 47 so I was there in Cambridge, and Ralph met me through my sister, who I knew. He lived in New York City, and he had come from New Jersey originally, but they would have music parties with the New Lost City Ramblers, Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, in someone's living room in New Jersey. And I was only 18. Well, you're hooked when you hear live music. When it's in your face, it's right there. And this was at a home of a guy who ran the Auto Harp Company, the Oscar Schmidt Autoharp. And he was some neighbor of my older sister Judy, who lived in New Jersey. So, Judy never played any music, but she knew these people through parties and friends. And anyway, I was going to say, there was one other thing about this. So, I met the man who produced county Records. I met Ralph Rinsler, who promoted this music for Doc Watson, of all people, who was about in his mid-forty’s, I suppose, a blind musician. And Ralph would put him on a bus, but he had to have a guide. So, he would ask me would I meet him, or would I ride the bus down to New York? Because he was leaving from Boston to play a concert down in New York. So, I would ride the bus with Doc. 

[29:46] Jan: Darn. Yeah, let me think about that. Okay.

[29:48] Susie: And his son Merle, who was too young to know a big city, and I was probably old enough, like 18 or 19 to be able to lead them and meet up and then hand Doc over to somebody who would take him to the next job he had. Well, as I knew Ralph, he opened up a little shop in Cambridge. He wanted to sell artwork from the Southern mountains, from the Appalachians, of people who made crafts. They were not getting a fair deal selling their work in the south. He decided to get that material, whatever it was, pottery, weaving, all kinds of things, instruments, things that they would make, and sell them in a little shop he had up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And he had a friend who was Scottish named Norman Kennedy, who was a weaver, and he would sit in that shop and weave, and then people could come and buy these crafts that Ralph had got. 


Well, one year he asked me, will you be my driver? Will you drive all the way through the south? I'd never been to the south. I wanted to go. So, it was spring vacation. We had about two weeks off, and we left Boston and went to Pennsylvania, and then down through West Virginia, down through Tennessee, North Carolina. I met Doc Watson's family down there. Willard Watson was an uncle, his wife and son. All these people. There were weavers in the woods. They had a little shack, separate, wasn't in the house. And there were coverlets that they were making and quilts and other places. So. Ralph knew all these people through the folklife festivals in Newport, and then he became director of the Smithsonian, of the Folk Life section. They used to have a folk life on the Mall Festival. He organized all that. So, then he would invite these people to come a banjo player.

[31:55] Jan: Who had never been at the city.

[31:56] Susie: Like that before, and instrument builders, and they would show their craft. They would show how they did these things. So, Ralph Rinsler introduced me to a whole world of musicians from the southeast of our country, Appalachia. And he was very special. He also played the mandolin with a group called the Greenbriar Boys. And I loved the sound of the mandolin. That's kind of why I wanted to play it. And Ralph and I were 20 years apart. When you travel in those days, you stay in a motel or hotel together. Usually, it was a cheap little motel somewhere. We'd stay overnight and then drive on the next day. We didn't have a lot of time, and so he'd have to register us as Mr. And Mrs. Rinsler. I was not romantically involved at all. I was just a student driving this car. And I can remember being almost blinded by the headlights because we would drive too far, too long, and I had contact lenses in my eyes, and they would tear up, and you could barely see, and there'd be big trucks coming at you at night, and the headlights were too bright. And then we'd get to some destination and sleep a few hours and then go on the road. It was exhausting. This was a vacation, and I don't think I was paid anything. It was just an experience. It was so amazing.

[33:20] Jan: You learned so much. I learned and made so many networking connections.

[33:24] Susie: Yes. And to this day. Well, Doc Watson died about 10-15, maybe ten years ago. He would recognize your voice even though he was blind.

[33:35] Jan: Yeah.

[33:36] Susie: So even at the end of his life, if I showed up somewhere and said, Hi, Doc it’s Susie, he would know who I was.

[33:44] Susie: And I'm friends of Ralph, he'd go, oh, he knew who Ralph was. He didn't need to see you. He just knew who you were. And you'd beg a tune, say, I really want to hear this song. Of course, I'll play that song.


[33:55] Susie: They were because of Joy and, oh, I got to hear Mississippi John Hurt at the Club 47. I go back in the little back room backstage and say, I really love this song. You do it's on a record. It's called Hold to his Hand. God's Unchanging Hand. Will you sing that? And he would come out and sing it. There was. Ralph. Sorry. Eric Von Schmidt, and so many great folk players and singers. What a life to hear them in person. The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Hedy West, Jean Ritchie this was real music. And I'll never forget the impact on my life.

[34:37] Jan: Yeah.

[34:37] Susie: So, I just kept collecting. And then my sister, being all involved in the whole music scene playing festivals, knew a lot of musicians I didn't know she would share all of these musicians with me. Send me little packages for Christmas and Birthdays

[34:55] Jan: it was your best gift ever.

[34:57] Jan: Right.

[34:57] Susie: It was the best. And so, I wanted to do radio because I had to give back. I had to share it.

[35:04] Jan: Yeah.

[35:05] Susie: That's kind of how community radio worked for me.

[35:09] Jan: Right.

[35:09] Susie: And then I kept singing just because I've always been a singer my whole life.

[35:15] Jan: Yeah.

[35:16] Susie: So, Jeannie taught me everything I know.

[35:18] Jan: That's what brings you what I know. Music, to me is just like it is love.

[35:26] Jan: Love. Yeah.

[35:26] Susie: It makes you want to dance. It makes you want to sing. It makes you cry, takes you places. It brings out emotional connections and memories. And you share this. If a friend comes to visit you, you have music to share.

[35:44] Jan: Yeah.

[35:44] Susie: And it's a wonderful bond. It's terrific. And my sister, still living at age 81, still playing music. They just did the Albuquerque Folk Festival.

[35:54] Jan: A few weeks ago.

[35:55] Susie: They play Cajun music. They play music from New Mexico. They were given the Governor's Award in New Mexico for furthering traditional music. That is so cool because they've saved a lot of music. They've learned from the source, from original musicians. They are not Hispanic, Jeannie and Ken, but they have all these friends who have taught them music. So, they have taught it to their siblings or their children. And it lives on that way. It's an oral tradition.

[36:27] Susie: And they've kept that going. I can't say enough to thank my sister for her discipline and her love of this music. She's given me so much.

[36:41] Jan: Yeah.

[36:43] Susie: And then knowing James Taylor, his mother actually turned out, when we were kids, Jeannie taught James guitar chords because he was only learning he was only 14. She said, this is an easy way to make a D chord because that way you can get to the G chord. It's faster that way. And so, he learned a lot of these chords from Jeannie. Turns out his mother was a student at Juilliard.

[37:08] Jan: Really?

[37:08] Susie: She was a singer. She wanted to study opera and married instead and had children. And so that interrupted her path.

[37:18] Jan: And because she loved music, that's what she passed to her kids.

[37:22] Susie: All of yeah. Yeah. And so, you would walk in that house, and you'd hear was you didn't know who it was. It could have been any of them. But they were all singers. And one time, James built a brand-new house. We went and visited back east because my family still lives. I have a niece and her family on the Vineyard. So, we visit. Well, she says, I got to show you James's new house. I went, okay, where is it? Oh, it's way back on a back road. But we'll go there. We went there and he wasn't there. And his sister had been staying there for a while caretaking watching the house, making sure the garbage went out.

[38:06] Susie: So we went there. Well, she showed me this house of his that he had had specially built with his latest his present wife, Kim. But they hadn't even lived there yet. It was such a new house. Everything was perfect. The bed was made. There was a gift, a present from his sister on the bed. But she took us up to the upstairs where the bedroom was and there was a big what do you call it? It was a big open room. And so, there was upstairs where it looked over down into the downstairs what do you call that? Like a loft. She started singing and it was that incredible operatic piece that was brushed and.

[38:54] Jan: The acoustics with that was probably yeah.

[38:58] Susie: You know, she could sing even at her older age. She was a gardener too. She was an amazing gardener.

[39:06] Jan: Wow.

[39:07] Susie: Trudy always cared about everyone. When I became program director at KMUN, I asked her for some records because we were building a library. And I said, you know what? We don't have any of your kids music here in the library. Would you please send me a record of James Taylor or his sister or his brother or something? She sent me one of each because she's a mother who shares all their gifts.

[39:31] Jan: Exactly.

[39:33] Susie: I had they're still in the library. There's a record by James, there's a record by Liv Livingston. There's one by Kate and there's one by Alex. That's the oldest son. Alex passed away of a sad time where he was recording and collapsed in the studio with a heart attack.

[39:53] Jan: But he died doing what he enjoyed.

[39:54] Susie: He was singing blues. Yeah. And basically, Kate is still recording, and she rereleased her first album just a few years ago with a production group in LA. Peter Asher, who produced the early Beatles album, and she has know through James and musicians who backed her up. So, Kate is still recording, and James is still recording in Livingston. Taught music at the Berkeley School of Music.

[40:26] Jan: Really?

[40:26] Susie: And he also taught something called like music management about how you become a business person for your tours. And he became that. And they're a wonderful family.

[40:40] Jan: Wow. What a pleasure

[40:40] Susie: I'm still in touch with to we lost Trudy. She was in her 90s when she passed away and she would call me once in a blue moon, call me up here and say hi. Out of the blue, it's Trudy.

I'm like, what is going on?

She said, greetings from wonderful sunny Martha's Vineyard. She was being sarcastic. It was not it was probably just.

[41:05] Jan: Like while you're looking out at the clouds and the beautiful Columbia River.

[41:10] Jan: Exactly.

[41:10] Susie: And she wanted to know what was going on what are you doing? How are you? Are you singing? She always would say that.

[41:17] Jan: Yeah.

[41:17] Susie: Are you singing? And because that was the most important thing. That was her heart.

[41:22] Jan: Yes.

[41:22] Jan: And she knows your heart.

[41:23] Susie: Yeah. And I found out something. Jan, do you know about music? When you sing, there is a gland right here in your temple that vibrates, and it gives you the feeling of well-being. Does that make sense?

[41:37] Jan: That totally makes sense.

[41:39] Susie: So that's why people sing in the shower. They won't sing in front of a person, but it's just the same. One time I had to sing with Jeannie and her husband Sandy, the first husband she had, Sandy, at the Newport Folk Festival, they sang a song that was three parts, and they wanted me to sing the third part. I went, oh, no, I can't do that. There's way too many people out there. And she says, no, you just look at me. It's just like we're in the living room.

[42:08] Jan: Yeah.

[42:08] Susie: Pretend.

[42:09] Susie: I'm like, really? I can do that and not get nervous.

[42:14] Susie: She says, yeah, it's just the same. Just sing.

[42:17] Susie: And so she made me have the nerve to get the courage to do that.

[42:23] Jan: And then you found out it was okay.

[42:25] Susie: It feels good to sing. We need to sing. We need to let out our feelings. And to sing is a beautiful way because it's poetry.

[42:33] Jan: Right?

[42:34] Susie: I love the words. I love the music. But some people are given a gift. They have an inner ear, they have perfect pitch. My sister had that, so, I think she shared it with me.

[42:50] Jan: Well, okay. That is just probably so great. I am going to ask you if maybe you could either play something or sing something.

[43:04] Susie: Oh, really? Well, when I think of singing, I think of early times and one song. People learn songs in camp. My sister learned how to play the ukulele in camp. I didn't go to camp. I went to Martha's Vineyard this summer. I was only ten years old. I didn't want to leave the place. But my sister went to camp, and one year my parents sent me with her, which was a very bad idea because I was tagging along. I was too young. But she learned all these funny songs, like nonsense songs. There was one called Queekwai Quonimoni Donimoni Dorsenik. I like those kind of songs when I was a kid. And there was one you probably know, Make Good Friends.

[43:47] Jan: Yes. My mom was our campfire girl leader.

[43:51] Susie: One is silver, the other is gold and they'd be rounds so we learned to sing in rounds. And there was one All Things Shall Perish from Under the Sky, music alone shall live music alone shall live music alone shall live never to die.

[44:10] Susie: These were little pieces that I learned as a child. But, oh, there's so many songs I could sing you. It's hard to pick one.

[44:23] Jan: Would you be willing to sing something for us?

[44:26] Susie: Well, I know so many of them, it would be hard to say which one. But yes, I think Sweet Jane is one of my favorite songs. It comes from England it's quite old. And then traveled across to the Appalachians where Jean Ritchie sang. Okay.

[44:44] Susie: Farewell, sweet Jane for I must go across the foaming sea my trunk is packed on Johnson's boat with all my company she wet my cheek with flowing tears as I did kiss her hand whoops. I'll think of you, sweet Willie dear when you're in that foreign land.

[45:22] Jan: The.

[45:22] Susie: First three years, I labored hard at taking out my wealth. I lived on bread and salty lard, but I never lost my health. I then packed up my trunk of gold and then I thought of Jane a heavy dread all on my mind as we crossed or the main.

[45:59] Susie: Saw a crowd of pretty girls come marching to the ship I saw sweet Jane with all her curls, and I began to skip.

[46:19] Susie: We marched down the Marble Street unto her parents' door they looked so gay and young and sweet while standing on the floor the parson read the marriage law and now we're bound for life sweet Jane is now without a doubt my own and loving wife.

Jan: That is lovely.

[46:55] Susie: Sorry I couldn't make those high notes.

[46:58] Jan: I should have picked a better oh, no. That is delightful. All right. Thank you, Susie, so much.

[47:05] Susie: You're welcome. Yeah. I have a version of Jeannie singing that song.

[47:10] Jan: Songs.

[47:10] Susie: This is probably one of the most insignificant songs that she wrote, but I love it. My sister wrote a verse to it, but they asked her not to copyright that verse. I still know it, so I'll sing.

Jean is always hardheaded she does what her mind tells her to do not what somebody else tells her to do. I've got a song about so high about so big around it's got a wonderful sound that I won't sing it I've got a song it's a shade of green embroidered all over with birds but I don't know the words so I can't sing it. Someday I'll get up on a mountaintop and open up my mouth and this big song I'm rolling out north and south. I've got a song pretty as let's see. I've got a song, Yeah, it's 3 miles long it's simple and strong and gay and I'll sing it today, maybe sing it someday.

[48:50] Susie: I almost didn't do this at all.

[48:52] Jan: Because I was not ready. There's tony. Oh, I'm Tonya. Incredible person. I've got a her as a child. It's been there most all of the time. It's got a pretty good tune and I might sing it this is genius verse. If I can remember the words and get up the nerve I'll sing it to the wind and the rain for the very first time this song of mine. Someday I'll sail out on the deep blue sea climb to the top of the mast and I'll sing this song in a great big voice to the whole wide world at last sing out a song as pretty as the moon as salty as the ocean spray and we'll sing it today yes, we'll sing it today.

[50:18] Susie. That I wanted to sing for you. It's called Farewell, Sweet Jane. It's an unaccompanied ballad from Gene Ritchie. Gene Ritchie had a big influence on Pete and Mike as they traveled in the south and collected their Appalachian tunes. So, I'm going to sing it for you. It's unaccompanied.


 Farewell, sweet Jane, for I must go across the Foaming Sea. 

My trunk is packed on Johnson's boat with all my company. 

She wet my cheek with flowing tears.

As I did kiss her hand


Oh, think on me, sweet. Willie, dear, 

when you're in that foreign land 

the first three years, I labored hard. 

I digging out my wealth. 


I lived on bread and salty lard, 

but I never lost my health. 

I then packed up my trunk of gold

 and then I thought on Jane.


A heavy dread all on my mind.

As we crossed toward the main 

I saw a crowd of pretty girls

 come march into the ship 


I saw Sweet Jane with all her curls 

and I began to skip 

we marched down the marble street 

unto my parents door


They looked so gay and young and sweet 

while standing on the floor 

the Parson read the marriage law 

and now we're bound for life 


sweet Jane is now without a doubt my own and loving wife.