Mustangs of the West. (Courtesy photo/Victoria Smith)

Mustangs of the West. (Courtesy photo/Victoria Smith)

Mustangs musician Suzanna Spring seeks the silver lining

“I’ve noticed, as an artist and a musician, that it’s forced a whole new creativity to the forefront.”

Suzanna Spring isn’t certain whether there’s a silver lining hiding inside our current dark coronavirus cloud. But she’s doing her optimistic best to find one.

The scheduled spring reunion tour for her all-girl L.A. cowpunk combo The Mustangs — now re-branded as Mustangs of the West, which just released “Time,” its first album in over 25 years — just got cancelled in the wake of the deadly pandemic. And her decade-old Dragonfly Yoga and Wellness studio in Livermore was also forced to put the kibosh on all classes.

“But I’ve noticed, as an artist and a musician, that it’s forced a whole new creativity to the forefront,” said the singer/guitarist, who is planning live-streamed concerts and a fun series of video shorts for her label, Blue Elan, to reintroduce the band.

The answers are out there, believes Spring, who pursued a songwriting career for a Nashville publishing house after Mustangs Mach I splintered in the mid-‘90s, before moving back to her Northern California family home in 2010 to teach yoga, where she still resides with her mother and two cats; her two brothers and their families also remain based in Livermore.

You just have to do a little reconnoitering. The Dragonfly shuttering, for instance, immediately pushed her to transfer all courses to video. “But about a week and a half ago, we put everything online for streaming, and I had to learn all about that because I hadn’t used the technology yet,” she said. “And now it’s nice to say Hi to my students after each lesson, all over the world.”

Spring speaks in reverent tones of the halcyon mid-‘80s L.A. punk and rockabilly scene that foaled the Mustangs, back when spirited groups like X, Los Lobos, The Blasters, Lone Justice and Rank and File played alongside each other at venues like The Palomino Club, where her bands fell into a Tuesday night residency. Even Dwight Yoakam, a then-recent emigre from a staid Nashville scene, made frequent appearances. “And there was a booking agent there one night from Finland at Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance, and he asked us if we wanted to come tour Scandinavia, and we ended up doing that twice,” she recalled. “Then we ended up playing South By Southwest on a show called Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Friends at the Broken Spoke, and Lucinda Williams was on that show, too. It felt like there was some real momentum behind the band.”

Alas, it was not fated to be. Spring took an alluring Music Row offer with Blue Water Music publishing and relocated there. But founding guitarist Sherry Rayn Barnett stayed in touch with her, as did original bassist Holly Montgomery, and when the singer sent her a twangy composition about missing California so much she wanted to move back, Barnett re-dubbed it ”T-Shirt From California” and decreed that the Mustangs should reunite to record it.

She then shopped it as a demo to the eclectic Blue Elan imprint, which signed the outfit (including new members Aubrey Richmond on fiddle and Suzanne Morissette on drums) after one high-octnae audition and green-lighted “Time,” most of which Spring penned in the classic hook-shrewd style of one of her heroes, the late Tom Petty. Kickoff single “How Blue” has the same comfortable lope as that artist’s classic “Wildflowers,” with a hickory-smoked Emmylou Harris lilt buttressing Spring’s forlorn lament. The rest of the record is equally chiming and charming, a perfect feel-good panacea for today’s unsettling times.

Spring said she won’t stop combing the Internet for more uplifting news. Some rural-routed friends recently reported that formerly timid wild animals like bobcats were now out of the woods and frolicking on farms. “And there’s no traffic for the coyotes in San Francisco,” she added. “I can only imagine what it feels like for them to run all over.”

The one clip that gave her pause? “This video of hundreds of chickens scrambling, pell-mell, down a city street. That’s probably how it’ll be when everybody comes outdoors again….”

music

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read