Prized Singer-Songwriter Suzanne Vega Plays Santa Barbara, in a New York State of Mind

Suzanne Vega Brings N.Y.C. Slices to the Lobero Theatre

Suzanne Vega | Credit: Courtesy

Her name is Suzanne. She lives on the ground floor of important singer-songwriters calling N.Y.C. home.

Pardon the “Luka” paraphrase: Vega’s classic song remains one of the most instantly recognizable and quotable in her songbook. The song is also one of the calling cards, along with another legendary New York story song from the same album (1987’s Solitude Standing), “Tom’s Diner,” on veteran songstress Vega’s new album An Evening of New York Songs and Stories.

Suzanne Vega | Credit: Courtesy

Next Wednesday, September 28, Vega will steer her current tour through the Lobero Theatre for an evening of songs and stories — mostly about her hometown of New York — in the heart of Santa Barbara.

Vega, who studied literature at Barnard and started out in folk clubs in Greenwich Village, had her dramatic rise into public consciousness and a wholly original niche of the singer-songwriter scene beginning with her debut album in 1985. A creatively restless soul, she ventured into more experimental territory on her 1992 album 99.9F°, gamely accepting the implicit songwriter challenge of turning a thermometer reading into a quirky hook.

Vega’s newly released album was recorded in a landmark New York venue, Carlyle’s, in 2019, before the city infamously fell victim to one of the most perilous attacks of the COVID-19 virus in America. The city also proudly faced off the scourge and set a paradigm for recovery (for a time). Fittingly, Vega’s N.Y.C. songs — usually embedded with minimalist storytelling — address the romanticism, resiliency, paranoia, edginess, and complexities of life in the Big Apple.

One of the lesser-known but special songs on the new album addresses the mythic phenom of an aspiring small-town-based artist going Gotham with big dreams, in the form of “New York Is My Destination.” The artist in question is Southern gothic novelist Carson McCullers, the subject of Vega’s 2016 one-woman play Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers. Full-circle timeline trivia: The first version of the play was created while Vega was a humble, aspiring student at Barnard.

Without a doubt, Suzanne Vega — born in Santa Monica but a New Yorker from toddlerhood — has thoroughly celebrated and been celebrated in and far beyond her destination home.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit lobero.org/events/suzanne-vega.


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