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  The Black Swan Folk Club
York, England
CD Review 

Low Rent District - Steve Suffet   Experience companionable WYSIWYG [what you see is what you get] old-school folk music from this "old-fashioned folk singer in the People's Music tradition."
Steve Suffet -- (LOW RENT DISTRICT) (Own Label) A New York native, Steve describes himself as "an old-fashioned folk singer in the People's Music tradition," with close on 40 years' experience and a repertoire accumulated over that time that mixes topical-political folk with songs of America's industrial heritage and old-time, blues, ragtime, gospel -- sometimes unashamedly rewriting his sources as he fancies (very much in the aforementioned tradition, then). This CD, Steve's third, has a welcoming (and yes, distinctly "low-rent" -- and proud of it!) demeanour, with an unpretentious, no-frills down-home recording that just presents Steve and a bunch of friends performing exclusively for you, right there in your very living-room. Not for Steve the manufactured product of the folk-degree perfectionist or the studio engineer -- this is the real deal: folk music as the people's entertainment, accessible and relevant but also suitably thought-provoking where required. Steve's own songs subscribe to the Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger ethos too: they include a rousing tribute to working men and women (Let's Sing), a topical rewrite of The Blind Fiddler (The Blind Veteran), some perversely self-deprecatory innuendo (High Ballad Man) and a neat little commentary on urban gentrification (the title track). Steve also turns in a handful of adept and authentically realised covers, which include three lesser-known Guthrie songs and Si Kahn's Aragon Mill. On this recording Steve's front-room friends include among the supporting vocalists Anne Price (with whom he's touring the UK later this month), with a handful of other musicians on banjo, fiddle, harmonica and piano at various points (and quite naturally and genially) augmenting Steve's own plain-styled but effective guitar playing. And the whole gathering (plus audience!) gets to join in on the live bonus cut. The inevitable caveat will be that folkies of a more contemporary predisposition who would revel in (or at least expect to hear) hard-hitting strong language or more overt Bush-bashing rhetoric must look elsewhere -- but there's still much to admire and enjoy in Steve's brand of social and political comment, which belongs unequivocally to what might best be termed the old school of protest-folk, determinedly -- and unashamedly -- old-fashioned... and timeless in its own way. Ça suffet, indeed, you might say!


Review by David Kidman on 15th Oct 2008
From the website of the Black Swan Folk Club  www.blackswanfolkclub.org.uk

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Low Rent District, Steve's third CD, was released September 25, 2008.
It is currently available from CD Baby, as are his two earlier CDs.