Susie Deane


During the 2016 holidays, Susie's older son Deane suggested that they finally record an album together. Mother & Child Reunion is a collection of wildly different songs. They blended genres in unexpected ways that are sure to outrage jazz, folk, and traditional musicians. And maybe even some rock musicians. The album includes hybrid versions of jazz, rock, traditional, African, psychedelic, samba, reggae, and country songs.

In addition to Susie's jazz, folk, Irish, and traditional acoustic music, Deane brings progressive rock and experimental psychedelic electronic music. Susie plays guitar, piano, banjo, fiddle, limberjack, and melodica. Deane plays guitar, bass, drum, synthesizers, and uses samples and loops. Susie chose songs that got the Deane Treatment: the songs Deane chose were Susified. Nothing was off limits.

While Susie and Deane sang and performed most of the instruments themselves, some songs needed extra help from other musicians. Steven Day Carter played drums and percussion on several songs, and Dave Fowler drummed on two others. Other family members sang in several songs, including Catherine Arnold and Deborah Wright, as well as Susie's other son Glenn Arnold, who sang in a chorus with Glenn Knickerbocker, Fred Boak, Wayne Delia, Kelly Delia, and Mary Arnold.

A nice bit of continuity is the inclusion of a few songs that Susie wrote and recorded with her old friend Sarah R. Newcomb (under the name "Elliot Finch") when they were in school in the 1950s. Elliot Finch is credited with a new song on this album, cowritten with Deane.


Mother and son initially decided to record songs where they share common ground. But they agreed to corrupt each other's songs as much as possible. Susie would jazz up or folk down Deane's rock songs, and Deane would add jarring prog rock electronica to the traditional music. They intentionally stretched their comfort zones. They only pulled back if they thought the result was too weird... which wasn't as often as they'd expected; usually when the music started getting further off center, they were both grinning.

May, 2018

Susie: lead vocal, beatboxes
Deane: vocals, acoustic, electric and bass guitars, keyboards, drums, loops

(The Beatles)
Deane: lead vocal, guitars, drum machine, synthesizer
Susie: harmonies

(Elliot Finch, Deane Arnold)
Susie: lead vocal, acoustic guitars, first guitar solo
Deane: electric and bass guitars, drums, synthesizer, second guitar solo

(Juan Tizol, Duke Ellington)
Susie: lead and harmony vocals, scat solo, acoustic guitar
Deane: harmonies, electric and bass guitars, synthesizer
Catherine: harmonies
Steve: drums, percussion

(Talking Heads)
Susie: chant
Deane: chant, electric and bass guitars, synthesizers, drums, percussion

(Elliot Finch)
Dedicated to anyone who has ever endured a parking lot session at a folk festival
Susie: all vocals, banjo, guitar, fiddle Deane: guitar, mandolin

(Tom Petty)
Catherine: lead vocal
Susie: harmonies
Deane: harmonies, electric and bass guitars, bass drum
Steve: drums


(Tom Petty)
Deane: lead vocal, mandolin, drums
Susie: harmonies, banjo, acoustic guitar
Catherine: harmonies
Tyler: fiddle

(Solomon Linda)
Susie: vocals, banjo, acoustic guitar
Deane: vocals, electric and bass guitars, synthesizers, drums, percussion
Steve: drums, percussion
Dave: drums

(James Taylor)
Deane: lead vocal, acoustic and bass guitars
Susie: harmonies, acoustic guitar
Steve: drums

(Elliost Finch)
Susie: lead and harmony vocals, lead and rhythm acoustic guitars
Deane: electric and bass guitars, drums

(Paul Simon)
Deane: lead vocal, electric and bass guitars, organ
Susie: harmonies
Dave: drums

(The Beatles)
Susie: acoustic guitar, melodica
Deane: harmonium, celesta

(Pink Floyd)
Debby: lead vocal
Susie: harmonies, acoustic guitar
Deane: harmonies, acoustic, electric and bass guitars, synthesizer, samples
Steve: drums

(Dave Mason)
With the Detached Gospel Choir
Deane: lead vocal, electric and bass guitars, percussion
Susie: piano
Steve: drums

(Larry Clinton)
Susie: lead and harmony vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, first guitar solo
Deane: electric and bass guitars, drums, industrial percussion, second guitar solo, harmonies


The songs on Time's a Dancer have been with me all my life, or they’ve come to me at different times as little gifts from friends. Either way, these songs are part of my life’s soundtrack. Each is special in its own way. One of the best things about recording a jazz album such as this is the way the musicians improvise and suggest changes to the charts. Sometimes someone has an inspiration, and other times it’s because the band is looking for an answer to a unforeseen challenge. Even though I wrote the arrangements and had the last word, it was the musicians who shaped the finished songs.

Thelonious Monk first recorded the song Straight No Chaser in 1951, but he recorded it again at various times, eventually releasing the album named Straight No Chaser in 1967. In 1988, Sally Swisher wrote lyrics for it: “… He knew the answer, that time’s a Dancer. He knew you can’t pack up the moment and take it with you on the road so now is the time… ”

I love Sally Swisher’s lyrics. I’d been told for years that I should make an album, but performing and other projects kept putting it off until Liza Constable gave me one last push. So now is the time.

Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive is a Johnny Mercer song I’ve known since I was about twelve years old, and first heard it on a ten-inch Capitol label vinyl record called Johnny Mercer Sings.

In Meet Me Where They Play the Blues, the lyrics are strung together in such a playful way, but I especially like how evocative they are to me. It feels great to sing a line like: “…they linger ‘til dawn, while the trumpets blare on, hopin’ you’ll happen this way.”

A guy came up to me at the Augusta Heritage Festival years ago and said, “Hey, you’re from Poughkeepsie, right? Listen to this.” Then he played There’s A Fella Waiting in Poughkeepsie for me on the tape deck in his car. Some of my jazz friends and I were pretty sure it had to be a contemporary song, because of its odd form; we had no idea at the time that it was written by Arlen and Mercer in 1944. By the way, it’s from Here Come the Waves, the same movie as Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive. It was a role reversal joke with Bing Crosby in an apron, and Betty Hutton in a uniform. That’s what fooled us into thinking it was modern and feminist.

I love the way the words are put together in Black Coffee, and I love the melody and flavor— lots of cream, but no sugar. The song is so good that I can almost forgive the sexist sentiment.

The tune to Benjamin came to me in my sleep, and I woke to learn that Benjamin Hollman had been born. So what else would I call this bossa?

When I asked Peter Davis to play saxophone on this album, he told me he didn’t think he could do it. “I haven’t been playing sax lately,” he said. I asked if he would play clarinet instead, and he agreed. Later on he asked me to transpose Benjamin into the key of E (a tough horn key) so he could play it where I originally wrote it, the concert key of G. I told him I would be happy to raise it to Ab to make it a good horn key, but he said he wanted to play it the way it was written. He showed up for the session with the sax and he nailed it, in the original key, on that sax he hadn’t been playing!

I’ve wanted to sing Lazy Afternoon for a very long time, and Vinnie spent some real time making an arrangement for piano and bass. We didn’t think we had time to record Lazy Afternoon at the end of the session. Sam was scheduled to leave, but he offered to stick around for another ten minutes or so. After a couple of false starts, we’d finished the track in one take.

I sing Lazy Afternoon every time I feel the heat on summer days as I harvest vegetables at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project.

Peter Davis and I trade “fours” in Up a Lazy River. It’s a conversation in four-measure bites between the scatting voice and the saxophone. Part of what I loved about this is the synergy that always happens between Peter and me when we perform together live. This track also gave me the chance to be the way I am in front of an audience, I often change the words and sing directly to someone in the audience or comment on what’s going on at that moment.

Pete Redmond and I like to sing harmony together in songs like Until I Met You (Corner Pocket) and Jitterbug Waltz, because of the way our voices blend.

For Jitterbug Waltz (“We’re dead on our feet and it’s hours since we’ve eaten but what can you do?”) I wrote the countermelody for trombone, originally to be played behind the vocal melody, but it was Alex Ferguson’s idea to put it in the first half instead of against the singing. Then we decided we shouldn’t come in with bass and guitar till part way through. The new arrangement allows the song to quietly grow, and each section builds to the next. Thanks, Alex.

—Susie, April 2010

baby piano