Tarnish & Fade
One could say music is in Suzanne O'Keefe's blood. Both her mother and father loved music and loved to sing. Her mother sang jingles on the radio as part of a vocal quartet. Her dad sang in the church choir and often invited Suzanne to sit along side him. Her parents bought her her first guitar when she was only nine years old, by the age of 10 she was already playing and singing in the youth guitar group at her church. But she credits her earliest musical epiphany to be - discovering Jackson Browne's Pretender album at the public library. "My family was of modest means and my dad passed away when I was 15. I am also the youngest of seven kids and my parents couldn't afford to buy a lot of extras for us, so I often went to the public library to check out books and music". I'd never heard of Jackson Browne but I saw the album in the bin. It was dog-eared and held together with tape. I took it into the listening room and played it and liked it enough to check it out. Over the next few months I played it over and over, memorized all of the songs and desperately tried to learn to play them on my guitar. I was blown away. I'm sure I paid a late fee for keeping it so long and not returning it on time. The album is so special to me because I discovered it so organically. It was the first time I remember thinking "I want to do this". Other earlier influences include: CSNY, Simon & Garfunkel, Dylan, Springsteen, Petty, Mellencamp, and later the Jayhawks, Steve Earle, Emmy Lou Harris, John Hiatt, Lucinda Williams, Eddie Vedder, Son Volt, Wilco,Patty Griffin. O'Keefe wrote her first song at age 16. Her love of poetry and prose led her to major in English (with an emphasis in creative writing) at the University of Minnesota. A small town girl with a love for animals, Suzanne was fortunate to grow up in a rural southeastern Minnesota community where often your first job was corn detasseling. Surrounded by cornfields, gravel roads and barbed wire, for O'Keefe, languid days in a small town were also spent dreaming about life outside the rural bubble. She always had a kind of "George Bailey" desire to see the world. O'Keefe's travels took her to the south of France where she studied at the University of Toulouse, and spent a summer travelling around Europe, from there to the desert skies of Arizona and a summer in New York. She taught English in Guanajuato, Mexico and lived in Chicago for two years. A brief stint working for the airlines provided more opportunities to see the world. Her guitar was always among her belongings, but it took a back seat to her adventures for awhile, and writing consisted mostly of journals and letters during those wanderlust years. A couple of "Office Space" type jobs left O'Keefe creatively unfulfilled and in 2000, she began writing songs in earnest and started performing at coffee shops and small venues in the area. In 2003, armed with a fresh repertoire of music, she formed and fronted the Junkyard Lilies with members of the Minneapolis based Hungry Horse. The band continued to perform actively over the next couple of years. However, in the summer of 2005, the Junkyard Lilies went their separate ways. This enabled Suzanne to concentrate on songwriting and recording. In August 2007, she began working with Dik Shopteau (Godikgo Studios, Minneapolis). Shopteau, at the time, was simultaneously hard at work at producing (with fellow band members) his own debut CD for his band the Tex Pistols. Shopteau brought in fellow Tex Pistols members : Boyd Lee (acoustic guitars), Brian C.Peters (electric, baritone, 12 string guitars, dobro, pedal steel), and, Scott "Scooter" Nelson (drums) to help out on O'Keefe's debut CD. The result is an album both melodically and lyrically rich, from a person that writes with both honesty and bold vulnerability.