Indie-Mania

Sue Menhart sings and plays guitar during a band practice. File photo by Cheryl Albaine
Sue Menhart sings and plays guitar during a band practice. File photo by Cheryl Albaine

Montville's blues-singing diva Sue Menhart has hit the big time-in Poughkeepsie. The lead singer of the Sue Menhart Band, recognized for her big-throated blues-rock style and songs about real life, isn't joking when she says the band's first live TV performance there could lead to a future spot on the David Letterman show.

The Sue Menhart Band, formed in late 2007, is made up of Sue on vocals and guitar, David Foret on bass, John Jeff on guitar, new addition Bill Quinn on keyboard, and Kevin Clark, Sue's husband, on drums.

The band performed a handful of songs on "Poughkeepsie Live," the town's Time Warner station, on July 23. Hosts of the weekly half-hour music show, which bills itself as a professional forum for musicians in the Hudson Valley and beyond to show their talent, also interviewed Sue.

"It's very serious, very professional; they had a ton of camera people all over the place, they treat you like stars," she notes. "They call the show 'practice for David Letterman' because that's how some bands got their start. The band Collective Soul was on Poughkeepsie Live and on David Letterman, and are still going strong today."

The songs and interview, posted on YouTube, are generating more online sales of Sue's two albums, "Torn" and "Gypsy Soul," and drawing new fans to the band's Web site, which has a growing list of accolades from music critics, reviews, and articles from music media and an ever-expanding schedule of upcoming gigs.

The artist also has been discovered this summer by Indie-Music.com, a Web site, database, directory, news source, and e-magazine that caters to the independent music industry, artists, and listeners.

"Menhart is a wonderful, natural singer, and the band is tight and equally robust," wrote Dan MacIntosh, Indie-Music reviewer, in June.

Indie-Music also selected Menhart's band as one of its Choice Cuts for August, followed up by an in-depth interview and feature.

"That was a huge deal, to be their Choice Cut for the month. They choose 12 cuts for each month, but only one gets to be the featured interview," she explains. "It think that was pure luck-the editors just happened to like our CD, out of all of the thousands they receive."

An IT professional by day, Menhart also relies on social networking and online outlets to get in touch with fans, talk with them, and let them know where she's playing next.

"We do a lot of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter," she says.

It's been a busy season, with 83 performances, mostly in New England. The band has played at Stash's Café and Bank Street Café in New London; it's a regular at Legend's Rock Bar in Gales Ferry; and has booked three performances at Toad's Place in New Haven.

"It's not necessarily playing more," Menhart says, "but it is being more selective and playing at more strategic places, where you have to be selected to play. We don't want to over-saturate any one area."

The band also performed at the Knickerbocker Café in Westerly, R.I., Riverwalk in Mystic, New London's Sailfest, and Montville's summer picnic concerts. In June, Sue performed at a strawberry festival and 40th celebration of Woodstock at a church benefit in Woodstock, N.Y.

Menhart, who never goes anywhere without her guitar, has also performed in Georgia.

"I happened to be on vacation there, and they want me to perform again next time I'm down there," she says.

She has several upcoming solo acoustic gigs, including Riverwalk on Sept. 17 and in the "Sinner's Circle" at the Bean and Leaf in New London on Oct. 2.

"It's four songwriters who sit in a circle, and really get down and dirty and do their songs acoustically," she said. "It will be a lot of fun."

The band members are all getting their passports in order to do some shows overseas.

"As soon as we figure it out," she said.

And yes, Menhart, who gets a lot of her inspiration, or angst, from balancing a day job in the corporate world, family, and a passion for the blues, is working on a third album.

"It's more adventurous and edgier," she said. "All of the band members are collaborating, writing it together. It's not going to be like the first two CDs. We're taking more chances, being riskier with the way it sounds, a bit of shock value. But there's still going to be songs you can sing to when you're doing your laundry."

See upcoming schedule and show times at www.suemenhart.com.

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