Biography of Susan “Runaround Sue”* Petersen
* Chosen “stage name” based on the old song and in recognition of Sue’s “running around” to numerous open mics from Roslindale to Plymouth to Raynham and everywhere in between.
“Since I am neither a song writer nor an accomplished/semi-professional singer I am honored (and surprised) that Neal has chosen me to be a feature at ROM. After first attending the weekly open mic at the Catbird Café in Weymouth in 2012 (where I first met Neal) I have greatly enjoyed the creativity and wide range of musical genres and gifted performers who participate. Thank you all for your friendship, example and encouragement!”
Susan (Swart) Petersen was born and raised in Weymouth, MA and now resides in Hanover. A focus on art and music began at a very young age since her mother and grandmother were always painting and creating. Her grandmother was very musical, played piano by ear, got Sue singing regularly and encouraged her to join the church choir at age 5. Sue’s last memory of her grandmother is of her brief time in a nursing home (in wheel chair w/oxygen tank in tow) where Grammaw played “God Be With You Til We Meet Again” and sang harmony to Sue’s melody. She passed away a few days later just before her 96th birthday.
The disciplined choir director taught Sue to read music, proper posture and breathing. Sue usually sang high range soprano and also duets and solos including the Mary Magdalene solos for church productions of “Jesus Christ Superstar”.
During her teens Sue took guitar lessons briefly and taught her best friend (an alto from the choir) to play. Their music choices included popular folk (Peter, Paul & Mary; Dylan; Donovan and Pete Seeger) and early Beatles tunes which they sang in two part harmony.
However Sue was primarily an artist who painted a portrait in oil of Ringo Starr at the age of 12. She recalls her first “caricature” as that of a very annoying/teasing 4th grade classmate with big ears. The boy was not pleased! (Was she a young “bully-via-art”?) Exhibiting extensively at school and the Weymouth Art Association, Sue won prizes at the Globe Scholastic Art Awards and received scholarships for college.
While attending Massachusetts College of Art Sue married her high school sweetheart and received her BFA (Graphic Design and Illustration) in 1973. Being a working wife (of a sportsman not a musician) and then a mother led to Sue putting away the guitar and leaving the choir. Later as a divorced mom of two – then ages 8 and 12 – Sue devoted her “free” time to community, school and Boy Scout activities, where she painted scenery with her daughter for the drama club and helped her son earn his Eagle Scout badge. When her teenage son decided that being the drummer for the Colonial Hingham Militia was not “cool”, Sue took his place as the only woman marching in uniform (keeping the guys in step!) until 2009 when spine problems set in.
Over the years Sue has donated graphic design services and artwork to many church, school and non-profits including South Shore Habitat for Humanity where Sue also recruited and trained volunteers, chaired committees, did public speaking and served a term on the Board of Directors (Faith Relations Coordinator).
Yes, Sue might also be called a “tree hugging, liberal, hippy”! As a lifelong liberal-progressive-pacifist who was an activist against the Vietnam War and for the Equal Rights Amendment, Sue continues to do what she can to support those same goals today along with equality and equal opportunity for ALL people.
A long career in graphic design and art direction at local printers, publishers and ad agencies, ended with a layoff just prior to the job-killing recession of 2008. This combined with health issues resulted in freelance and contract work. She recently illustrated 3 children’s books (two authors from open mics!) and has done a band tshirt as well as many logos, caricatures (from photos), custom art for businesses, and various printed materials including magazines.
Sue loves spending time with her children and 4 grandchildren who all live less than an hour away. After working alone most days Sue joins friends at open mics and live affordable music venues. She greatly cherishes the new friends she has made and hopes to further connect with musicians who might accompany her until perhaps she is able to again play guitar for herself.
Biography of Mike Brier
When I was a young man I tried three different times to play fiddle—about two years each time. But I was unable to sustain because of taking care of four young children and busy work schedule. Now is my last chance! I started playing for real 8 years ago. I love all music- especially Klezmer (Jewish), country western & Americana, bluegrass, Irish, classical, and jazz. I never played professionally and ROM is the first time I seriously play gigs. Thanks for all these opportunities!
My pretty wife Marilyn accompanies and supports me at ROM and she enjoys the people and entertainment. She is a glass artist. This summer we will be married 49 years and we have six grandchildren and a sweet and loveable dog, Nuna. For over 30 years I was an electrical / computer engineer working in telecommunications and data communications. At the time of the 2001 recession, I became a math and physics teacher/ professor/tutor at some area schools and colleges.
My technical background led me back to engineering and in 2011 I started my energy and water management consulting business that serves commercial building owners, operators, and architects. When I look back at my life, I recall that I always loved nature and realize I can do more to take care of the earth. My business and passion give me many opportunities to explain to people all the reasons why we must care for the earth.
I am very honored and happy playing music, sharing it with you, and being a ROM feature.
Double Feature's Bios
Here are the bios for our next feature...
Roslindale Open Mike