MATTHEW SWEET AND SUSANNA HOFFS PAY TRIBUTE TO ROCK AND ROLL CLASSICS.

Nov 24, 2009

By Rob Nagy

MATTHEWSWEET&SUSANNAHOFFS-2Pop recording artists Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs each came to prominence via different paths while enjoying varied degrees of success. Sweet, while born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, relocated to Athens, Georgia in the early 80’s and soon became a part of the burgeoning Athens music scene where artists like the B-52’s and REM were embarking on their now legendary careers. Sweet worked with REM front man Michael Stipe in a band called “The Community Trolls” while pulling double duty with Stipe’s sister Lynda in the “Oh-OK”. By 1985 Sweet had caught the attention of record Giant Columbia Records – landing a solo contract and releasing the album “Inside” to rave reviews but less than dazzling record sales. Departing Columbia Records, Sweet signed with A&M where, again, he had critical acclaim but very little response from the record buying public. It wasn’t until 1991’s Zoo Entertainment release of the album “Girlfriend” that Sweet got the long overdue radio airplay and record sales he had longed for. The title track “Girlfriend” reached the top ten, spawning the heavily rotated video on MTV. Along with success comes an end for too many artists; Sweet was no exception. He had achieved the notoriety and airplay that was most deserved, but fans – having little patience – moved on to the next new craze. Sweet released a handful of albums throughout the remainder of the decade and into the millennium but was unable to revisit his brief moment in the spotlight. In 2002 he put together the super group “The Thorns” releasing one album before breaking up. Along with writing and recording Sweet did some producing, co-writing and work in TV and film. Sweet and Hoffs were members of the band “Ming Tea” along with Mike Myers in the classic film “Austin Powers”.
Susanna Hoffs enjoyed far more media attention and notoriety as a member of the 80’s girl group “The Bangles”. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Hoffs was exposed to celebrity as the daughter of film director Tamar Simon Hoffs. Signing with Columbia Records in 1984, the Bangles breakthrough came two years later with the release of the album “Different Light”, which yielded the smash hits “Walk Like An Egyptian” and “Manic Monday”. As the most visible member of the Bangles, Hoffs garnered much of the attention. She co-wrote songs for other artists, most notably the Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle, and saw Rickenbacker unveil a Susanna Hoffs’ model guitar. With the 80’s rapidly coming to a close, the Bangles released the album “Everything” featuring their biggest single “Eternal Flame”, which Hoffs co-wrote and sang. Displaying her diverse talents, Hoffs co-starred in the film “The Allnighter” starring John Cusack, which was directed by her mother. By 1990, the Bangles disbanded eventually reuniting nearly a decade later, at Hoffs urging, to release the “Doll Revolution” album in 2003. Hoffs released a couple of solo efforts to a moderate response, but like Sweet, the glory days had come and gone. In 1993 Hoffs married film director Jay Roach (Austin Powers and Meet The Parents). It was during the making of “Austin Powers” that Sweet and Hoffs established a great friendship that continues to this day. In 2006, billing themselves as “Sid and Susie”, they recorded and released “Under The Covers” Volume 1, a collection of their interpretations of the 60’s greatest songs, which included “Monday, Monday”, The Kids Are Alright” and “Cinnamon Girl”. Following the release of a long overdue solo effort, 2008’s “Sunshine Lies”, Sweet and Hoffs returned to the studio to record their current release “Under The Covers” Volume II, offering a collection of classic songs from the seventies, which included “You’re So Vain”, “Hello It’s Me” and “Maggie May”.
On November 15, 2009 Sweet and Hoffs performed a two-hour set to a surprising capacity audience at the Sellersville Theatre in Sellersville, PA. The concert was in two parts with Sweet and Hoffs doing their 60’s cover songs the first half and the 70’s portion the second half. The duo was joined by two additional acoustic guitarists – adding a depth and richness to the overall sound. In between selections they told a variety of stories relating to their respective careers. The show itself seemed flat and a little on the unrehearsed side. Too much time was spent talking, and there seemed to be confusion at times over what song to play next. While Hoffs still has a very strong singing voice, her microphone was clearly put at a volume that was often overbearing and took away from the overall show. Still, it was fun to hear so many of the classic songs that have stood the test of time no matter who is performing them. Standouts included “You’re So Vain”, “Cinnamon Girl”, “Hello It’s Me”, “All The Young Dudes” and “Go All The Way”. There is talk of Sweet and Hoffs releasing an 80’s tribute but to date nothing has been confirmed. For more info on Matthew Sweet go to www.matthewsweet.com and Susanna Hoffs go to www.thebangles.com To stay up to date with all future shows coming to the Sellersville Theatre go to: www.st94.com

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