Woo puts ‘writer’ back in singer-songwriter | PostIndependent.com

Woo puts ‘writer’ back in singer-songwriter

Special to the Post Independent Wendy Woo will play in Carbondale Saturday.

Wendy Woo should have been a writer.

She was born in New York City, but soon moved to Boulder, with her parents, Jane and Bataan Faigao. Jane was an artist, and Bataan was a poet. The two founded the Naropa Institute, a Buddhist scholars and literary center.

Woo spent her childhood surrounded by the great American writers from the 1940s to the 1960s. Names of writers she knew ” William S. Burroughs, Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg ” slipped easily off Woo’s tongue in a phone interview.

“We had Allen Ginsberg to the house often,” Woo said, “cooking and all that.

“It was a pretty wild upbringing, but it was great.”

And though Woo was surrounded by writers growing up, she didn’t choose that line of work ” not exactly, though she did sign a contract last month with Sho-Bud Music Publishing to write songs.

“There was a lot of creative energy in my youth,” said Woo, which she attributed, at least in part, to her becoming a musician.

Woo started playing music by learning other people’s tunes, but she also studied classical and jazz more formally: “a nice eclectic journey,” she said.

And though her music has gained her wide recognition on the Front Range (Denver’s Westword has named her the best singer-songwriter for four straight years), her roots in writing shine through. She sings in “One Way Street” on her “Walking the Skyline” album:

There’s just no understanding

It’s clear as mud can be

It’s straight from dirty water

as far as the eye can see

and you can ask me many questions

you can tell me many lies

but you make you own disaster

I’m lost in your disguise

I feel you pull me closer as we laugh within the crowd

and our eyes lock like our bodies would

if no one was around, and I can feel my body burning

I shake when you’re around

I get dizzy spells and nostalgic smells

I can not settle down

Lyrics like those, her ability on the guitar, and her tendency to produce her own stuff, reflect Woo’s diverse musical ability.

She plays both solo acoustic shows, and electrified gigs with her Woo Band.

“We can play anything from a frat party to an old-folks home,” she said.

Regionally, Woo plays with her band, but when she tours the rest of the county, it is often just her and her guitar.

“You’re not quite as big a deal,” she said of playing New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. “I think of it as an experience and a vacation.”

Wendy Woo and her band take the stage at 6 p.m. on Carbondale’s Main Street in the last performance of the summer downtown concert series. Seattle singer-songwriter Jill Cohn (see related story, right) will open the show at 5:15 p.m.

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