AH! I finally got to see The Venice Songbird, Suzy Williams, perform a real set last night at Danny's Deli on Windward. She is a complete original, and I have adored her from the first moment I laid eyes (and ears) on her. That occasion was a sad one - a Memorial for our beloved Sponto - at the beginning of this year. She wrote a song called "Sponto" and sang it from her very soul. It both wrecked everyone, and made them laugh at parts too. That's when you know that you've connected with people, and their emotions - and Suzy does that every time she opens her mouth.
Suzy is an old school style CHANTEUSE. She dresses up like I wish we ladies did more. She will throw on a bright green wig and wild ensemble just to ride her bike (Gladys, friend of Delores) to the Farmer's Market. I have never seen her with anything less than a gigantic smile on her perfectly made-up face. Her enthusiasm and warmth exudes off her just standing still, but when she is ON, performing - all you can do is sit back and enjoy.
The best place to catch her is every Second Thurday (7:30 - 10:30, 3 sets) at Danny's. The house was pretty packed last night when we rolled in, with a lot of familiar Venice faces, all smiling and nodding their heads like the hep-cats they were, full of the absolute respect Suzy commands. Suzy is JAZZY. She throws her whole body into each song, and positively beams at the piano player (Brad Kay) while he does his stylish thing. You can tell she's thrilled to do what she does.
She plays standards (Henry Macini, Anita O'Day - "I love Anita O'Day - I'm wearing her outfit.") and originals alike, each interpreted in her own elegant way. She reminds me of Judy Garland, but in control. Suzy has lived and played in Venice for 13 years now, after falling in love with her husband, Gerry Fialka. He introduced her to the Venice bike lifestyle, and she calls him a "Lifestyle Artist". That basically means you live for free as much as possible. Go to free things, throw free events, not complicate life with money and things - as their love shows, the best things in life ARE free. At one point, my friend Jenny said, "Gerry loves her, Carol. Look at his face." I turned around to glance at Gerry and literally almost cried. The pure love that shone out of his smile at he gazed at his woman trilling a long note of "Moon Over Venice" - was what you hope everyone will get to feel at some point in their own lives. It was my favorite moment of the night.
Which was followed closely by Suzy dedicating her "Sponto" song to Jenny and I. We miss our friend Sponti every day, and Suzy said she misses him as much as the very sad day she wrote it. "You should be riding your bike on the beach, digging some foxy and fine Venice Peach ... Sponto, SPONTO, Sponto ... where'd you go?" There is no finer tribute, and bless Suzy for encapsulating that wonderful man in song.
A very cool thing is that Suzy has an album coming out soon of ALL Venice songs! She's thinking it might be called, "All Venice, All The Time". You will want to own this insta-classic, I promise you. Catch a Suzy show for yourself soon - it transports you to a more genteel time, when the ladies were classy, and the men appreciated that. You'll also feel a whole lot cooler than you did before you got turned on to Venice's own Songbird. Snap your fingers to that!