Thursday, January 2, 2020

2020 in 2020!

A new year! I’ve been sending out emails, texts and cards wishing the people I love a happy, healthy, inspired New Year…hoping that we can all improve our vision of what this world is capable of being. 2020 in 2020 is my new motto! 

I still hold onto the hope that we can take action and turn things around…environmentally, politically and emotionally. The world is so divided and on edge. My resolution is to begin microcosmically with my own self improvement…being more involved…a kinder, more empathetic person…smiling and engaging with strangers. I realize it will take a hell of a lot more than that to turn our messed up world right but I’m determined to practice kindness and recognize goodness, joy, and the delights that are still very much a part of my extremely fortunate life. 

Make no mistake…I think concrete things like voting, giving to charity, volunteering, recycling, composting, spreading joy through your music and art…yes, yes, absolutely do that too of course!! But the kindness thing is majorly needed right now. 

I also have to work on chilling more around small stressors in my immediate life that in the big picture don’t matter at all…like social media stress, texting, tweeting, instagram envy (Oh man! Everyone is doing cooler shit than me!!) and freaking out when computers don’t function when you need them the most…”where did my mailing list go all of a sudden?!"

Can I talk to you about computers for a minute?

Anyone who owns a computer knows that they're fantastic when they work but on the other hand they’re a nightmare when they don’t work...capable of turning you into a ranting angry crazed lunatic.

 If your livelihood depends upon the computer functioning, one can feel hostage to whatever technological "glitch du jour" pops up on the screen freezing the arch of your mission dead in its tracks.

I have a dependency on my laptop and its functionality like most of us do; I schedule students, rehearsals, gigs, meetings, write and archive my lyrics and music etc. but my partner depends on it for every single step he takes in his creative process for his work. He’s a composer who writes scores, orchestrates, edits and communicates with filmmakers through a series of keyboards and computers that seem to work for him maybe… 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time he is in his studio cursing like the afore mentioned lunatic, rebooting, unplugging, crawling under diode blinking machinery, unraveling and re-patching cables.

We’ve been married for 12 years and I feel like the computers in his studio are these other entities that came along with him when I said “I do”. Some relationships inherit children from former marriages…or pets…or a piece of ugly furniture that has sentimental value to the other guy so you willingly take it on…but these computers have a life and a mind of their own and they rule the roost.

I truly do understand the fragility of the whole system and that one thing out of whack stops not only my hubbies whole entire creative process, but makes it impossible to meet his deadlines which can be unbelievably stressful.

The day will be humming along swimmingly, then I’ll hear the sound… The dreaded sound…the all too familiar guttural caveman grunt coming out of the studio...I will think “oh crap the computer’s not working but...maybe it’s OK” then profanities of blue come streaming up the hallway and I think “nope... not good...I’ll go hide in my room with a book till it blows over” and so it goes. 

We live with this unreliable temperamental room mate named Mac who has been known to very suddenly alter our weekend plans, keep his owner up sometimes for 24 hours trying to figure out how to get the guy to talk again, tease and taunt by working like a champ and then without warning and with no rhyme or reason, stick his little electronic nose in the air and stop all communication.

There is such an intense sense of relief when my hubby the composer comes into the room and says “OK I figured it out! It was minor!” That proclamation can come after 5 minutes of swearing,or worst case scenario several days of fiddling and sending out for parts and taking the computers apart and putting them back together again. One never quite knows how these episodes will play out.

I’ve learned to adjust to living with Mac. Like any temperamental artist, he can be fabulous and inspiring, or completely frustrating and elusive.

Here’s to the three of us living under the same roof and making beautiful music together in 2020. 

On the tiny- teeniest level, which is my very small life...I believe this will be an amazing, beautiful, loving year of positive forward movement.

On a much grander scale I pray that all of these small gestures that each one of us is very capable of putting out into the atmosphere, will collectively make a positive difference that we can feel globally. 

Happy 2020 from Suzi, George & Mac

George at work...things are hummin'

My little room mate Mac

Life can be sweet...remember this,

Sunday, October 13, 2019

We could use your help!

Are any of you Spotify or Pandora users?

If so we could use your help making the grocery money!

Did you know:
According to Spotify, the artist receives a payout somewhere between 6 tenths of one cent up to 8.4 tenths of a cent ($.006 and .0084) per "stream" of that artists music?

It depends on the agreement between the artist and Spotify, but that being said you'd need well over a million "hits" listened to for a minimum of 30 seconds to count as a "stream"  to make your pay off of $6,000.  That's not too good for over 1,000,000 streams of ones music.

Here's how you can help: during your listening process please consider doing a search for Suzi Stern and stream some of my tracks. They were all lovingly crafted and the brilliant musicians on every track would be honored to know that the music is being heard.  The perk for me will be getting a check from CD baby for Spotify and Pandora streams.  

It might bring in enough $ to take George out to dinner or put a little bit of gas into our hybrid Volt...and knowing that the music is indeed being heard makes me happy.

Let me know what you think about the tracks.
What you'd like to hear more of? 
Share your listening habits with me. 
I'm curious about what works and what doesn't and how jazz musicians can keep making a living with out necessarily touring and selling T-shirts and the merchandise that goes along with that route. 

If you still actually listen to physical CD's I have 8 releases to date that can be purchased on or or or visit my website where there are sound samples so you can make an informed decision!

Thanks for reading all of this and considering locating and listening to my tracks!

I am so grateful to all of you beautiful music lovers. 

Musically Yours,


Time off from work with my grandson!

Teaching a clinic in Pasadena. This continues to be such a joy! Helping aspiring singers find their voices!

Another wonderful outlet recently: Singing with the new music orchestra "decisive Instant" in L.A.

I keep writing and far it's not making us rich but it's part of this unstoppable process!

My involvement as assistant director of Lulufest in Austin Texas is so important to me. Meeting and working with remarkable women like Jane Bunnett and Maqueque from Cuba, Ingrid Jensen, Allison Miller, Dawn Clement, Emily Gimble, Helen Sung, Carrie Rodriguez to name only a few. I'm stoked about Lulufest 2020 where the line up will be equal inspiring.

More joys of being a working musician: Networking with ridiculously talented and wonderful women like pianist / composer Peggy Stern, Jazz vocalist / composer Jay Clayton and saxophonist / composer Claire Daily.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Coming home to Buffalo

The first time I moved away from home I was 19 and happy to get out of Buffalo New York. I'd tell people I was from N.Y. hoping they'd think I was talking about Manhattan. It wasn't a lie. I was indeed from New York, but the western most part of the state right on Lake Erie...famous for Bethlehem Steel, the Erie Canal, Niagara Falls, WKBW radio, the Terf Club situated right underneath the Peace Bridge with the best fresh oysters, clams and pizza and always hoppin' with mafia diners...The Anchor Bar with it's famous chicken wings, beef on wick, Teds Hot Dogs, The Buffalo Sabres and the Buffalo Bills...So nothing a 19 year old vegetarian who wasn't into sports was too excited about.

At the turn of the century Buffalo was a vibrant center for commerce, with beautiful architecture, parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and wide parkways lined with trees. It was a destination spot for artists, writers and intellectuals. But when I was growing up there it was a struggling city...people were leaving inner city Buffalo to buy homes in the suburbs...and once the steel plant closed Buffalo seemed more depressed than ever.  Although the air seemed cleaner people were leaving, old buildings stood neglected and downtown was full of empty store fronts.

Today Buffalo is coming back to life.  It's truly one of my favorite places to visit. My family is there so of course I love visiting but that fact aside, Buffalo is full of character and history and beauty.

I especially find beauty in the little gems that no one has touched yet...things that haven't been renovated...the old bridges rusting and sturdy, ornate man hole covers that remain unchanged, abandoned factories waiting to be turned into condos or art museums.

I have lived all over the country. In fact I've lived away from Buffalo longer than I have lived "in" Buffalo yet Buffalo will always be home. The intense winters, the joyous spring thaws, spectacular colorful autumns, and the backyard bar BQ's, swimming in Canada, luscious green, all too brief summers.

I plan to be compiling a book of photos that I've taken over the past years from the city of no illusions and here are just a few images to share.

On another pun intended, I'll be in Austin May17th & 18th to sing at lulufest and help produce this years fabulous concerts. Hope to see you there!  All the details here:

Love from Pasadena California and thanks for reading my blog!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Lulufest 2019!

Hey Everyone!

I’ve been busy here in L.A. doing some long distance assisting with the plans for Lulufest Austin!  

This year, being our third Lulufest we are extending the event to two days of concerts. May 17th at Parker Jazz downtown Austin Texas & May 18th on the Jones Theatre stage at Saint Eds U. 
We will be presenting an amazing group of extraordinary artists so be sure to save the dates on your calendar and I’ll see you in the heart of Texas this coming May.

Our fearless leader, Peggy Stern (no relation!) has very creatively chosen women to feature who present a wide array of varied musical styles. 

All the info. you need is on the Lulufest site at

Looking forward to being back in Austin and being a part of this beautiful and important festival!

Musically Yours,


From Cuba to Austin: 
Jane Bunnett and Maqueqe 

Carrie Rodriguez

Claire Daily

Dawn Clement

Estrella Salsa 

Jay Clayton

Pamela York

Friday, February 8, 2019

Train Ride

Train Ride

He was in his late 30’s…maybe early 40’s and the black ink art on his forearms added to his interesting image when he asked me with a strong cockney accent “How fah issit to Raw-chestah?”

“Rochester? Well I’m not exac…”
Before I could finish my sentence a pretty young woman in the seat in front of the tattooed interesting cockney accented dude cut into my air space with :
“6 hours…it’s a 6 hour train ride…I’m from Rochester.”

“Well thanks! Ummm, that fah huh? I just got offa playn from Lowndon and I missed the connection to Raw-chestah, and so I booked a train…some cabby mate offered to drive me there for $1500.00…” 

She speaks over him,“Rochester is so boring.”

He finishes his sentence, “$1500.00, ha! Can you bah-lieve it it? Very funny bloke. So Raw-chestah is boring is it?” He takes a vacant seat next to the Barbie doll girl.

“Yah…nothing to do there. Why are you going there?”

“Oh…I ‘av employment there puttin’ up high tension wire towers. I’ll be there with blokes I dun really know, who like ta drink and hunt ha! I’m not into drinkin’ and combine that with firearms and…”

She interrupts “There’s a lot of great bars in Rochester…there’s a music school…I was doing a lot of modeling with my best friend…”

“Oh Yah? You look that sort you do…I can see that…”

“Oh…(giggle) thank you!”

“So yah…I’m afraid these blokes will jus wanna go out drinking and I’m over that. I need to find a gym to work out in or something so when these blokes go out to get drunk after work I’ll have a good excuse…”

She interrupts “There’s a great restaurant called LaScala on Park Street that has amazing mixed drinks and a fabulous wine list…”


“Oh good…I do love food. Not that I’m against drinking…I’ll ‘ave a glass a wine wid dinner now and then, but these days I’m tryin’ not to get wrapped up in…”

She talks at the same time, words overlapping until he stops mid sentence to hear her say “I was in the army. They discharged me because I have allergies. Asthma actually.”

“What are you doin’ now? Modeling again? Did you like the army?”

“Well yah…I’m just living back home for now…nannying near my parents house for some neighbors who have a toddler.”

“Ahh, the nanny thing…well good.”

I stop eavesdropping and go to the dinning car to get some tea.

10 minutes later I return to my seat and cannot help myself…In fact I lean in to hear better . I can audibly recognize the flirt in her voice “here’s an offering of friendship”
Trying to act like I’m looking at something else I peek through the space in the seats in front of me to see her handing him a travel sized screw top bottle of red wine.

She clearly wasn’t getting his message about the drinking thing.

“Well thank you so much! Let’s make a toast to friendship!”
I hear the soft crack of the screw top seals being broken, and get back to my book. I notice a figure standing beside me in the aisle so I look up and see a man standing there holding out a $20 bill. It was the guy who works in the dining car.
“I believe you dropped this miss on your way out of the café with your tea.”
“Yes!! Thank you so much! Let me give you $5 for your honesty!”
“Would you come back and tell my boss?”
I got up and followed him to the dining car hearing the cockney getting louder and more pronounced as I passed the couple who were obviously getting more relaxed by the minute.

“In England we don’t ‘av the death sentence as we know that violence begets violence…” She talks over him…they are speaking at the same time now like a constant cacophonous duet…words tumbling over each other’s statements, but now he doesn’t pause to let her make her points…he just happily and vigorously continues talking until he needs to take a breath.

I come back about 10 minutes later to take my seat again.
As I pass them I see several empty travel size screw top wine bottles on their trays…I figure they must be working on bottle number 5 each. …from the jolly volume possibly more!

The train stops in Rochester and the two new friends get off.  
A young officer in army fatigues comes up to me. “Mam please state your citizenship.”
As weird as this seemed to me I muster a smile and say “U.S.A.” 
He smiled back and quickly moved on to some other random passengers asking the same question.

I’m on a train going across New York State…not crossing any boarders, so I get an unsettled feeling about his having approached me at all.  A scenario flashes across my brain of being a fortunate Christian German woman being asked this question on a train in 1942 by a Nazi soldier looking for Jews. 
In this case I was no threat. I somehow belonged there and was safe. He smiled and moved on. But then I heard “Sir…state your citizenship. “ 
The man’s reply was very quiet. The soldier barked at him “I cannot hear you sir. Do you have your immigration papers?”
The man replied quietly once again.
“Sir you are required by law to have papers with you at all times. It is against the law under U.S. immigration codes to travel with out these papers and documents.”
A quiet but terrified utterance…
The soldier has a louder tone now “Sir…have you ever been arrested?”
Same quiet utterance…
The scene is unfolding behind me and I don’t want to turn around  to see the result of this encounter but I hear rustling and a commotion and I’m certain the man was escorted forcibly from the train. I feel like a traitor somehow, for simply sitting there…I feel uncomfortable and privileged within what feels like a new fascistic frightening America… we sat there as though this was all OK and normal? It is quiet now.  Non of the other passengers look at each other…eyes downward pretending to focus on their papers and magazines.

The train lurches forward and I am headed home.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A little bit of heaven...

In our family the rule is, you cannot visit the Sea, be it the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, Gulf of Mexico...where ever, without putting your feet in or tasting a little bit of the salt on your tongue and enjoying the sandy grit crunching between your teeth. It can be 32° outside – no matter – get in touch with that salt water and be part of a watery connection that has touched the other side of the earth. 

What an awe inspiring vastness – so much water – so much horizon that you can see the curve of the planet...the smell of sea life and catch the hypnotic pulse of waves tumbling in and receding back out, curling in again and mixing with the next roll of serf creating a glorious rhythmic sound – scent – texture; And the edges of sea foam over my feet making my toes sink into the moving liquid sand underneath. 

The perfection of it makes my eyes tear up, and I have a familiar feeling of extraordinary well-being that I haven’t felt in a while.

My dear, long time Austin friend Ann had to fly into LA for a conference in Redondo Beach so we drove down to meet her. She greeted us at her hotel room door jumping up and down like a small child full of glee “ Hi!! Great to see you! Come on in and come over here because you won’t believe it! You can see Sea Lions right from my balcony! They sound like barking dogs, and you can watch them swimming it’s just so adorable!”

There they were…probably 100 sea lions jumping off of a rock wall, gliding through the water playing with each other and looking quite adorable, it was true! The sounds they made were amazing...different dynamics and different pitches in their calls to each other like a complicated and energetic conversation. 

These sounds were not the most graceful sounds in nature but sounds that made you laugh every time they barked and grunted at each other. 

However we later discovered that at three in the morning while trying to find sleep the sound coming through the balcony door sounded more like deranged beagles en masse or possibly a gaggle of old men with Laryngeal problems trying to cough something up.

Don’t Sea Lions sleep at night? Evidently not! I think that’s when they start to party on the rocks!

Anyway the sun is up now and Redondo beach is beautiful.  

I am amazed that I can be in such a lovely relaxed open place along the Pacific Ocean as this, and still be so close to an enormous city like Los Angeles.

Pretty cool.

The sea on the rocks

A California Brown Pelican...stunning.

Sea plant...also stunning.

A pier...storm worn.

Detail of pier.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A warm years end and onward towards 2019!

It's favorite month of colder evenings, candle light, roasting in the oven, bundling up evening walks and warm inside creative expressions which thankfully make me look inward a bit finding a sense of calm.

My 2019 calendar is already filling up with bookings, music, festivals and travel...but before the new year rolls in with energy and excitement I'm relishing just laying back, feeling out being a Californian, and reflecting on the past few weeks which have been truly beautiful.

I have friends that print out the years events and tuck the photocopied text with pics into a holiday card. I never have done that. These days it's a Chanukah miracle if I get a few cards out in the mail...but I'm going to try and do a version of that via my blog.
Not the entire year, (thank you I hear you say!!) but the past 6 weeks since my last post.

Before I get into the photo posting though I want to wish everyone of you a happy holiday...what ever you celebrate...may it be filled with laughter, reflection, peace and time spent with friends and family and may this new year which is just around the corner be a year of good health, happiness, clarity, creativity, music, love and productivity. I somehow do remain hopeful about this world. Every little bit we each of us do to make it a better place does matter. Doing matter how small makes a difference and can inform positive change...the butterfly effect!

A few weeks ago my two wonderful friends, Ann and Martha flew in from Austin to meet my new life in LA and check out my digs in Pasadena. Here are two women who really make a huge difference in the world every single day. Spending time with them is inspiring beyond words.


We toured the Gamble house which is an exquisite Green & Green built Arts and Craft home in my neighborhood. Thank you to Delores Bing (famed cellist and fabulous docent!) for the tour!

We are all foodies so we cooked amazing meals...that was a killer frittata!

Went to the Huntington Gardens which is a short walk from my new home. It was fantastic having my comrades here for a few days to stop and smell the roses with me!

On Dia De Los Muertos George and I celebrated the passing of our loved ones and shared this beautiful tradition with our new LA family! Tamales, marigolds, candles, music and laughter. Our ofrenda was really beautiful and it honored my sister Sharon, father Harry, grand parents Stern and Oldziey and inspired amazing conversations about their brilliant and colorful lives. My Seattle friend Peggie (yet another remarkable woman in my life!) joined us for the weekend and we decided to make this a yearly tradition. My daughter Ariana's family on her fathers side is Mexican and this is especially important to us this year as she recently lost grandmother Luna who joined her husband Senator Gregory Luna in the land beyond.

My family all came into town for Thanksgiving at our house which was absolutely great!
Both of my children, my daughter in law, my nieces and grand nephew and several LA friends.

But wait!  Drum roll pleeeeze!!

Meet my grandson...Remi Justice!  He was the star of the show all weekend!

Above is Remi and his 8 year old cousin Gavi who fell in love with the new baby in the family.

Everyone wanted to gobble this guy up! This is his beautiful aunty Ariana! (who is also my beautiful daughter Ariana!)

Some of the crew who flew in: Next to me is Ari, Michelle, Selena and Remi and little Gavi lovin' on his baby cousin.

Gourds etc. These persimmons came from a friends tree in his yard and they were delicious!

It has been years since both of my children were together with me at the same time! Ari & René thank you so much for making the trip!

Friends and family really making this a home...a table filled with healers, artists, musicians and children! The best!!

And a perfect post dinner afternoon spent at the Huntington Art Museum:

I get inspired when I hang out in art museums and came home and painted these:

Don't ask me why :-)

OK onward:

Recently George and I drove into Ojai to mix a sound design project (with famed recording engineer Bruce Botnick) that George was commissioned to do for the Bob Bullock Museum.

It was a stunning drive on a day that California finally had some much needed heavy rain.

Truly beautiful rain and mist on the mountains...

Bruce and George mixing for surround sound.
These two are amazing. George was in heaven working with this legendary man.

Being members of the Society of Composers and Lyricists we have been invited to some fantastic early screenings with Q & A from the directors and composers. My favorite so far was the Coen Brothers film "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs". Carter Burwell composed the score and it was inspiring to hear him talk about his process.

We found a sweet tree and decorated it with only found objects in nature (except for the string of lights and the origami!)

And being who we are...we have a very eclectic home. This was the last night of Chanukah.

I just got back yesterday from a trip to the Pacific Northwest. I'm on the left coast now so it's a breeze to zip up to see my dear Peggie Bates in Seattle and then head to PDX to be with the new family of three.

Pikes Market in Seattle...

Peggie & Cary of Seattle xo

With René in Portland...damn Suzi, put down that phone!! (Talking to George!)

The new dad up in Washugal Washington.

The most photographed child in the world? Could be!

Happy holidays friends! I promise you more new music in 2019 with the release of my newest compositions!  If you are in Austin I'll see you at Lulufest in May!

Love, peace, joy, creative inspiration...all good things sent your way.