Helsinki Hudson’s Insider’s Guide to Alexis P. Suter
HUDSON — What do you do when your mother was a backup vocalist for Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Harry Belafonte, Mavis Staples and Dionne Warwick, among others?
Apparently, you grow up to be an award-winning blues, gospel, and blues-rock vocalist with an extraordinary bass/baritone voice. Your name is Alexis P. Suter, and you bring your smoking-hot band with you to Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday, March 14, at 9pm.
The Alexis P. Suter Band first gained regional fame when the late drummer/vocalist Levon Helm invited them to warm up the crowds at the Midnight Ramble in Woodstock, N.Y. Helm brought them on the road as the opening act for the Levon Helm Band, where they won new fans at the Beacon Theater in New York City; Bethel Woods outside of Boston; the Paramount in Asbury Park, N.J.; and at Central Park’s Summerstage. Here she joins Helm on a version of the Band classic “The Weight.”
Since then, the group has been a fixture on the blues festival circuit, where Suter stands out from the pack with her extraordinary voice and her powerful stage presence. In addition to Levon Helm, her fans include B.B. King, who said, “It’s a rare thing to share the stage with great talent like that young lady,” and Dan Aykroyd, one-half of the Blues Brothers.
Suter has garnered nominations at the Annual Blues Music Awards for the Koko Taylor Award and the Best Soul Blues Female Artist award.
OK, at this point, stop reading and watch this seven-minute video introduction to Suter, which says more in sound and vision than can ever be put into words.
Suter’s repertoire ranges from old-time Delta blues like “John the Relevator” to classic electric blues like “Got My Mojo Working” to vintage soul including “Take Me to the River” and even to the Beatles - watch her rendering of “Let It Be” and marvel how she finds the soul song that always lurked inside of this ballad you’ve heard a million times - and Jimi Hendrix. She’s like the entire diverse history of the blues wrapped up into one soulful package. (She also tackles George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity,” dedicated here to Trayvon Martin.)
Levon Helm wasn’t the only member of the Band who found something extraordinary in Alexis P. Suter’s talent. Organist Garth Hudson sat in with Suter and her band on a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” - Hudson of course accompanied Dylan on the tune on the 1974 Bob Dylan/The Band “Before the Flood” tour.
Her tune “All Over Again” was selected by David Browne for the NPR feature “Song of the Day.” Browne called it “the most exuberant example of the way she applies defibrillator paddles to vernacular music. Everything about the track feels alive, from the snarling rock guitars that announce its arrival to the hopped-up piano and backup singers that take it from there. Riding roughshod over it all is Suter, who’s had it with that feckless cad in her life and wants him, through the gale-force winds of her voice, to know she means it this time.... Both the song and performance transport you to that roadhouse juke joint you’ve always wanted to visit but never have.”
Last year, Suter released “Be Love,” which included the funky, rock-influenced tune, “Sway.”
A few years ago, Suter did an in-depth interview with Albany’s Nippertown.
BluesBlast Magazine raved about her album, “All for Loving You,” calling it “an in-your-face collection of new tunes that deliver a powerful message while having you up and dancing, too.
And in a line I wish I had written, the Wicked Local in Brewster, Mass., said, “If Alexis P. Suter had been at the Battle of Jericho, Joshua could have put his ram’s horn away.”
Remember - for reservations in the Restaurant or in the club call 518.828.4800.
For the most up-to-date concert information, always visit Club Helsinki Hudson.