Stereogum Presents: Suzanne Vega & Dawn Landes, A Benefit For Housing Works

On Sunday, November 14, I’ll be presenting my first event for Housing Works, the NYC-based non-profit that has been fighting AIDS and homelessness for twenty years now. One of my songwriting heroes, Suzanne Vega, will headline. Twangy indie sweetheart and bowling champion Dawn Landes will open. Tickets cost an extremely reasonable $35, and are close to selling out.

Buy yours here. I’ll wait…

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Last year our own Brandon Stosuy (a HW board member when he’s not in corpsepaint) produced Live From Home with Björk and Dirty Projectors for which Dave Longstreth debuted a conceptual suite at the organization’s SoHo Bookstore Café. In addition to raising thousands of dollars for charity, the event birthed an official Mount Wittenberg Orca EP, and later a surprise ongoing David Byrne/St. Vincent working relationship. There was also a swanky rooftop afterparty where I think M.I.A. and Haley Joel Osment exchanged Twitter handles.

In attending other memorable events in that bookstore — e.g., Krallice’s Mick Barr blowing minds on a staircase on a Sunday afternoon, the morning benders’ warm harmonies offering respite from a blizzard on the eve of their nine month North American tour, Janeane Garofalo telling jokes I couldn’t hear because she was under-amplified — I’ve have come to know the fine folks behind Housing Works, who welcomed me to curate a benefit on their behalf.

In the spirit of Brandon’s cross-generational Live From Home, I’ve paired Suzanne Vega (a NYC institution/inspiration for over 25 years) with the like-minded and versatile Brooklyn-via-Louisville songwriter Dawn Landes. Also SPECIAL GUESTS. The Farley Bookout-designed artwork you see above will be sold at the venue as an extremely limited edition (50) silkscreen poster. As with ticket sales, those proceeds all go to Housing Works. Dan from NYCTaper will be on hand to preserve for posterity. I gently hinted to Ms. Vega that she should cover “Bed Intruder Song” (she brought it up first). That probably won’t happen. OR WILL IT? (It won’t.) But “Blood Makes Noise” > “Left Of Center” is a strong possibility. Bring your kids, bring your wife.

Suzanne is halfway through revisiting her remarkable catalog via a four-volume Close-Up series: stripped-down reinterpretations of her tunes released on her own new Amanuensis Productions label. (Stereogum premiered “Gypsy (2010)” in January.) This will be my third time seeing Suzanne perform in 2010 (first at St David’s Historic Sanctuary during SXSW, later was a spring gig a City Winery). Both rooms were packed, as was Highline Ballroom in ’07 (I arrived late to that one and couldn’t see anything). My point is, get your tickets now. This will be an unusually intimate venue. Perhaps the most intimate since the following time capsule bootlegged from The Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton on 5/17/84 (actually, I have no idea what the capacity at Iron Horse is, but read on…).

The first of two sets that night began with “Tom’s Diner,” likely composed 29 years ago this month, definitely utilized as the template for the MP3 codec (!), and (after “Luka”) Suzanne’s second huge hit via DNA’s left-field 1990 dance remix:

So again: “Tom’s Diner,” live in ’84: a few months after it first appeared in a Fast Folk mag compilation, but three years before it was officially released on her celebrated second studio album Solitude Standing. I find the closing banter particularly amusing.

Suzanne Vega – “Tom’s Diner” (Live ’84)

Folk hero.

Hope to see you at Housing Works! If no one comes, they won’t let me book my “Witch-House Tribute To Leonard Cohen” Hanukkah Party.