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Susan Fawcett

Jack Pine - November 10th, 2008
Susan Fawcett, 25, sits in her sparse-but-hip home in Building 50 at the Grand Traverse Commons. The October sun is pours in and she is surrounded by a wide variety of stringed instruments. It would take some time to count them all. There is a mandolin, fiddle, a couple of guitars, a banjo, an auto harp, a Chinese string instrument called an ehru, four-string Venezuelan quatro and a bunch of others still in their cases. Her phone rings every few minutes, but she never jumps or flinches.
She is co-owner of a music and film production company, a singer-songwriter-musician, plays several instruments and is a talented illustrator and painter. What might be more amazing, is how relaxed she is about it all.
Fox on a Hill, the music and film production company Fawcett created with Petoskey resident Patrick Schaller, is now two years old. She got the idea for the company when she was in Venezuela working as a botanical illustrator.
“When I was down there, I had a lot of time to think,” Fawcett says. “I was playing music and studying and thinking about Michigan and my involvement with the Earthwork Music Collective. I really wanted to come back and pour a lot of energy and whatever skills I have and try to apply them to this community.”

FOLK COLLECTIVE
Earthwork Music is a loosely grouped roster of young, talented Michigan folk musicians, including Seth Bernard, May Erlewine, Steppin’ In It, Breathe Owl Breathe and about a dozen others. Fox on a Hill’s mission is to handle production, promotion, distribution and allow the musicians to concentrate on their creations.
“We saw there was a need,” Fawcett says. “We share a lot of the same goals. Fox on a Hill is an effort to centralize knowledge and to also create a network for sharing bookings and gigs.”
To date, Fox on a Hill has been involved with the production of 23 recordings. It’s packaging and artwork is always top-notch and eco-friendly and often features Fawcett’s designs and/or her detailed drawings.
Fox on a Hill’s biggest seller so far is Greg Brown’s “Yellow Dog,” a live recording of a benefit concert for the Yellow Dog Watershed, which is a group attempting to stop sulfide mining on the Yellow Dog River in the Upper Peninsula. Fawcett’s first experience playing music on stage was when she was 16 and busing tables at Petoskey’s City Park Grill. While the other workers would take smoke breaks, Fawcett would practice harmonica in the parking lot. Blues musician Larry Garner, who was playing at the club, heard her and was impressed and asked her to sit in. Fawcett held her own and began playing with a host of other bands while working at CPG. It was an education in how to improvise musically. “I was always playing songs I didn’t know with people I hadn’t met,” Fawcett says.

BUSY LADY
Fawcett now plays with somebody, somewhere every weekend, whether it be on the fiddle, harmonica, quatro or bowed-saw. She is a member of the Earthwork/Fox on a Hill experimental rock band Airborn or Aquatic? and will be touring Michigan with singer-songwriter Michael Beauchamp in November and December, including a stop at Short’s Brewery in Bellaire on November 21.
All of this begs the question, how does she manage to keep up with it all?
“It’s hard to say. I don’t have a lot of idle time,” Fawcett says. “I play as much music as I can, maintain relationships with people all over who are working on different things and try to stay in touch with what’s going on.”

On November 8, Fox on a Hill and Earthwork Music present “Roots on the River” at Manistee’s Historic Ramsdell Theatre. It will include Seth Bernard, May Erlewine, Bates and Foote and many more. For a complete list for this concert and all else, check out their ultra cool web site at www.foxonahill.com.

 
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