Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound to visit Wilkes-Barre’s F.M. Kirby Center
WILKES-BARRE — Attending an Alexis P. Suter performance is like going to church.
That’s because the goose-bump-inducing, bass-baritone vocalist presents both moving music and sermon-worthy spoken word without ever sounding preachy or letting a moment go by where her fans aren’t entirely engaged.
Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound will perform at 8 p.m. March 31 in the Chandelier Lobby of the F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square to celebrate the release of their latest live record, “Live From Briggs Farm Blues Festival.”
Local power blues trio Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen will open the show in support of AMOS.
Suter said the move to record live at Nescopeck’s Briggs Farm was “in the making for a long time.”
“It’s always been a thought to have the Ministers do a CD,” Suter said.
The Brooklyn-based singer and songwriter has released several albums with her other group, Alexis P. Suter Band, but, she said, AMOS would perform live without hard-copy music to share.
“We needed something for our fans,” Suter said.
Suter said the relationship the band had with Briggs Farm owners Richard Briggs and Allison Stone-Briggs was a deciding factor in choosing a recording venue.
“Richard is very generous, loving and respectful toward us,” Suter said.
Suter also wanted to involve the audience in the recording, something she knew would be possible at Briggs Farm.
“The energy there is so beautiful, I knew that the project would be a beautiful project,” Suter said. “And thus far, it is a beautiful project.”
The record, a poignant mixture of robust blues and soulful gospel, touches both ardent and serene audible textures. It features original music, traditional songs and a few covers, such as Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and The Beatles’ “Let It Be,” a regular set closer for Suter’s groups.
One track, “Goin’ Home,” was inspired by Suter’s late friend and musical legend Levon Helm with whom Suter’s ensembles performed at many of Helm’s Midnight Rambles at his studio in Woodstock, N.Y.
“I want to thank him, even though he’s not here physically with us,” Suter said. “Spiritually, he’s still here. I still thank him … for giving us a platform to be heard. I feel, in a sense, we were his Staple Singers from the Last Waltz.”
Suter said the AMOS ensemble has rotating bass players in Tony Tino and Jason Upchurch but that she knew when the group, which also includes drummer Dave Grappone and vocalist Vicki Bell, came together, the result would “fit like a glove.”
“I can’t even tell you how we got so blessed to have Chris Bergson (guitar) and Dave Keyes (keyboards) as a part of this unit, because these guys have their own bands, and their own life and their own tours,” Suter said. “We’re a very powerful unit, and we gel so well together.”
With an affinity for intimate venues, Suter said she’s excited to return to the Kirby Center, where she has played both the main stage and the lobby in the past.
“This is going to be my second time,” Suter said of performing in the Chandelier Lobby. “I really dug it. People were really close. It was intimate and sweet, and you could see the peoples’ faces and that they were into it. It makes me, as an artist, want to give more.”
Often addressing her audience between songs, Suter delivers emotive and heart-felt soliloquies of unity and understanding, giving her band’s performances an undeniable spiritual ambiance.
That approach, Suter said, is about “four simple letters that everybody wants, needs, has or wants to give.”
“L.O.V.E.,” Suter said. “That is the common ground and the foundation for anything that ails you. I believe that when you can reach people through love, it’s not a religion. It should be a way of life for everyone. I try to keep it universal.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO
What: Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound
Where: F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
When: 8 p.m. March 31
Ticket information: Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show and are available through the Kirby Center box office, online at kirbycenter.org and by phone at 570-826-1100.