PRINT May 1997


Run On

Rock ’n’ roll has never been particularly kind about the aging process. Just ask Roger Daltrey, who’s still around to curse Pete Townshend for making him sing that “hope I die before I get old” line thirty years ago. Or check out Lou Reed in leather pants and ask yourself if there’s any dignity in that. Thirty-something Sue Garner of NYC’s RUN ON sings in a wizened, unaffected voice that seems comfortably primed for those pitfalls. It’s a voice that acknowledges time past without denying the present, refusing the future, or trying to re-create past glories.

In a way, Garner has no choice: none of her former bands (Last Roundup, Fish & Roses, the Shams, and Six Layer Cake) had much of an impact outside the 212 area code. But, together with her husband Rick Brown, on drums, downtown feedback specialist Alan Licht, and Katie Gentile, on organ and violin, they choose to make music that doesn’t settle down into regimented patterns.

“Just a little is good enough” sings Garner, on the opening track of Run On’s second album No Way (Matador), not out of desperation but from hard-won knowledge that the good stuff in music and life usually arrives in small doses. Or maybe she’s just talking to Licht, whose guitar buzzes ominously in the backdrop before surfacing for a tastefully short and sweet melodic tantrum while Brown’s sticks gallop on a tom-tom and Gentile’s violin drones forcefully.

Later, on the almost folky “Anything You Say,” Licht sings without melodrama, “No one sees what we’re doing/No one feels like we do/And no one hears anything we say.” Whether addressing a lover or his band, Licht’s words are buoyed by the subtle, contagious rush that comes with realizing it’s possible to grow up without giving up or in to the fantasy of being young and in the spotlight.

Matt Ashare