The Warren Miller Performing Arts Center honors the music of our neighbors in a concert featuring two great musicians from North Dakota and Colorado. Singer songwriter Chuck Suchy and pianist & visual artist Scott Kirby join forces to present a unique program of music that truly represents the northern plains region of the United States.
Chuck Suchy (pronounced soo-key) is the real thing–one of the foremost musical voices of the American Great Plains. A working farmer, born and raised and at home in the blue hills along the Missouri River south of Mandan, North Dakota, Chuck Suchy has a love for making music that goes back to his childhood. Throughout his youth and young adult life, he found time to perform in the area’s halls, clubs and lounges, singing and playing guitar and accordian. In 1982 a major event occurred when an acquaintance gave him a tape of Canadian troubadour Stan Rogers singing his classic Field Behind The Plow. “It was at that moment” Suchy says “that I realized that the life I was immersed in was worthy of song.” He began writing his own ballads and songs, slipping them into his performances and it was soon obvious that he was on to something quite unique -sensitive and honest portrayals of contemporary American farm life, but from an insider’s point of view.
In the decade since, Chuck Suchy has continued to write, sing and record songs evoking and extolling the Great Plains region and lifestyle. His themes have expanded to include songs about human relationships, spirituality, motorcycles, and even sailing. The Plains have seen a lot of change over this time, including farm crises, loss of population, and a major restructuring of the agricultural economy. Chuck remains an astute observer of it all and his songs chronicle not only the events, but the emotions and feelings that accompany such upheaval and change.
CROSSROADS MAGAZINE has called Chuck “…one of the shining lights of the Upper Great Plains.” His music and stories speak to everyone -urban and rural- because laughter, love, gain and loss are common human property.
A native of Ohio, Scott Kirby began his study of music at the age of six, and continued formal piano instruction for seventeen years. He worked under Robert Howat of Wittenberg University of Ohio, and Sylvia Zaremba at the Ohio State University. After obtaining an English degree from Ohio State University, Kirby moved to New Orleans and began his professional music career, as a street performer. In the following four years, he recorded the complete rags of Scott Joplin, and made his debut at all of the major ragtime festivals in the United States, as well as festivals in Belgium, France, Norway, New Zealand, and Hungary.
Kirby has served as Musical Director of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, MO, and of the Rocky Mountain Ragtime and American Music Festival in Boulder, CO, as well as director of the San Juan Islands Ragtime Institute. His appearances include a segment on CBS News Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood in 1998, and at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Kirby co-founded a record company (Viridiana Productions, L.L.C.), has made 25 recordings, and has composed over 150 original works for piano and other instruments. Admired by fellow pianists including George Winston, and hailed by Time Magazine as an “ace pianist,” CBS News’ Charles Osgood agreed that “…Critics call Scott Kirby one of the best interpreters of ragtime music on the scene today.”
Kirby’s artistic passion grew to include to visual art, and in 2005, while living in France, he completed 75 paintings and 28 piano compositions, including “The Prairie Devotionals,” The paintings (belonging to a set entitled “Visions of the Great Plains”) and the new musical works set the groundwork for his new multi-media project “Main Street Souvenirs.” Kirby now lives in Boulder, Colorado and divides his time between composing, painting, performing and teaching.
The Music of Our Neighbors concert is graciously sponsored by Les and Terye Loble.