Get Happy

Spend Sunday evening with Savoca

By Nancy Bodily

Karen Savoca asks two things of a Cache Valley audience: "Expect to have a good time... and wear your dancing shoes."

It seems an ambitious, happy request for a Sunday evening Eccles Conference Center crowd prone to enjoying a concert from a seated position, but, hey, give the girl a break, she's traveling a long way to be here.

She and Pete Heitzman are midstream in a seven week, 33 city tour that will take them from Washington, DC, throughout the west, into Vancouver, BC, and then through Montana.

And the one thing that will make Savoca's stay in Logan an awsome experience is an audience with a groove.

"Audiences really make a difference. People are so use to watching TV and looking at computer screens, so much passive stuff, we tend to forget that we're connected and that we need to communicate.

"If you pull into a place you can really be tired, and if your audience is steady and quiet... and they may be loving it... but if they're not showing it, you don't have the same energy. But if they're dancing around, whatever the day was... no matter how rough... it just melts away."

Like chocolate, maybe.

What a gift, and it's not like it will be difficult to get into Savoca's groove; it won't be hard to get happy. With butterfly strength, the songwriter's sounds carry, her conga drumming invigorates and her sweet, generous voice lifts.

For the most part, Savoca's sounds are jolly.

"Thanks!," says the artist from her hotel room in Cleveland, OH. "I'm a pretty happy person. That's not to say I don't have my down days... but I'm not one of those angst-ridden performers."

That's not to say her material isn't without a soul. In her CD "Sunday In Nandua," Savoca blends happy with intense, beauty and anger, past with present for a mix of emotions.

Although if you're seeing Savoca live, it will be impossible to leave without a grin - as for those fortunate enough to see her open for Greg Brown 18 months ago can attest. She's energy with a hint of the giggles, counteracted comfortably by the long, steady guitar of Heitzman.

The two have been together since the early '80s. They met in a "mystical encounter" at a club where Karen was singing in Syracuse, NY, "and the two have been together since," says Savoca's bio.

The two have their own label and have produced three recordings from their home and studio, a renovated church in upstate NY. And they've just added another musical notch to their belt, meaning in addition to a great evening of entertainment, Sunday's concert is also a "CD release party" for the team's fourth creation "Here We Go."

Can Savoca fans expect more of the same from this release?

"It's hard for me to say how this differs from the others. I think it's similar. I don't think it's a great big departure, but some of the songs have just left home."

Appropriate considering Savoca's writing inspiration - lots of jazz influences aside - comes from "leaving home," and the comforts of a whining engine headed down the road.

"I write in my head mostly. I don't need to be sitting at the piano or playing something. I'm not regimented at all... I just figure if I get an idea and if it stays with me, and I wake up the next day and it's still in my head, then I take it seriously." Like any good writer, Savoca is also a good listener.

"I'm a huge eavesdropper. I love to hear people's conversations. I get a lot of great stuff that way. People are funny. People say funny things all the time. If I hear something great, it will find its way into my music somehow, somewhere."

With a career built around life on the road, Savoca's sure to have plenty of material, but is she tired of the whole scene? Is she growing weary?

"I still get really excited by it. I feel really lucky to be doing this and to be able to do it full-time.

"Pete and I are a couple and we get to tour together. We have lots of friends who have to leave their partners to go on the road. For the most part, we are really enjoying ourselves... We try to trick ourselves into thinking that it's a great big working vacation."

Like that's some huge leap? Tough living as the two travel in and out of the Rockies for weeks on end?


"I love it there," Savoca says as she talks about her last trip 'round these parts. She still relishes the site of the red Moab sand staining one of her coats. and a sketch Greg Brown drew on a backstage blackboard after the Logan performance graces Savoca's homepage.

"We had a great time in Logan, so I'm really looking forward to it."

Only one question remains; Where do you get a good pair of dancing shoes in this town?

-- Nancy Bodily, Cache Magazine editor

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