Celebrating the city: Iconic Suzanne Vega brings New York show to Ridgefield Playhouse

Whether you’re an 80’s child who knows every word to her hit “Luka,” or at any age humming along to “Tom’s Diner,” Suzanne Vega’s music has made an impact on so many.

And if her music has impacted you, you know the very essence of New York City weaves in and out of her very self and her music. 
Vega’s music has garnered Grammy and Billboard awards and sold-out concerts in many of the world’s best-known venues. Bearing the stamp of a masterful storyteller who “observes the world with a clinically poetic eye” (The New York Times), Vega’s songs have tended to focus on city life, ordinary people and real-world subjects.

NPR Music notes that she “has been making vital, inventive music” throughout the course of her decades-long career. Now, Suzanne Vega is coming live to The Ridgefield Playhouse on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. as part of the Ridgefield and Wilton Magazines’ Singer Songwriter series.  

This stunning performance is a celebration of her new, career-spanning live album “An Evening of New York Songs and Stories.” She’ll revisit some of the most iconic songs in her repertoire – including “Luka,” “Tom’s Diner,” and “Marlene on the Wall” – as well as more hidden gems.   Vega is a featured artist of media sponsor 90.7fm WFUV radio.

1987’s “Solitude Standing” elevated Vega to star status. The album hit #2 in the U.K. and #11 in the States, was nominated for three Grammys (including Record of the Year) and went platinum in the U.S., selling three million copies worldwide. “Luka” is a song that has entered the cultural vernacular—likely the only hit song ever written from the perspective of an abused boy. Vega continues to support children’s and human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Casa Alianza and Covenant House.

Watching her beloved city go through pandemic was “terrifying” according to Vega, who was born in California but relocated to New York with her family at age 2. 

“I’ve been inspired by it but haven’t written about it yet. It’s been a long transition,” she said.

Vega said she’s jotted down notes and recorded sound files during those hectic months helping her family and others, and she intends to document it in song in the future. 

As far as playing at Ridgefield Playhouse, Vega said she enjoys playing a variety of venues and events. 
“I do like small venues — it is how I grew up, both playing and watching others play, learning how to tell a story in an intimate setting,” Vega said.

And tell a story, she does. 

During her performance, she punctuates various songs with the meaning or context. Before playing “Gypsy,” off her critically acclaimed album “Solitude Standing,” Vega describes being the “folk singing and disco dancing counselor” at a girls’ camp who wrote the song for the counselor of the fellow boys’ camp.

The one cover in her line up of the set, which has been released as a live album, is Lou Reed’s “Take a Walk on the Wild Side.” Vega describes having just moved out of her parents’ home as a student at Barnard College. At age 19, she went to see Lou Reed, and described the performance’s impact before performing it.

“That show really showed me what rock and roll was,” she said. 

Vega also hopes to cover songs by other New York artists, including Bob Dylan, and Blondie. She is currently working on a cover of Blondie’s song, “Dreaming.”

Vega studied English literature and wrote poetry early on in life. When it comes to songwriting, whether she starts with the lyrics, or the music depends on the song. 

“Sometimes I just hear the melody in my mind, like for ‘Tom’s Diner.’ Other times, it’s a title that comes to me. It is really all different,” she said. 

“Tom’s Diner” is also one of her favorite songs to play live — she said watching audience members of all ages sing and dance to it is fun. However, in terms of other songs that are favorites live, it really depends on the day and the mood — it could be a softer song or a rock and roll song that “makes noise.” 

Vega embraces all of New York, but she particularly loves “the Met” — the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
As a patron, Vega said she spent much time in the museum’s lounge writing, with its view of Central Park. She wrote the bulk of songs for her ninth studio album, “Lover, Beloved: Songs from an evening with Carson McCullers,” there.

“It was a very New York album. It was her dream to live here,” Vega said. 
The Ridgefield Playhouse staff is thrilled to welcome Vega back for this month’s show. Vega last appeared there 14 years ago. 

“To me she embodies the actual sound of Greenwich Village -- rather, what was once the village. It would almost make sense to hear cabs honking in the background of her records. If you know New York and you know that scene, her music can take you right back there. I think that's in part what makes her so special,” said Artistic Director Jared Shahid.

Suzanne Vega performs “An Evening of New York Songs and Stories” at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Thursday, Oct. 21. For more information or to purchase touchless print at home ticket ($58.50) visit www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org or, visit or call the box office 203- 438-5795.