Get ready to sing "Happy Birthday" to Wendy Woo at her upcoming show at Stargazers Theatre and Event Center. Though the gig is the day after her birthday, she's celebrating big this year.
"I was super excited for 40," Woo says of Jan. 26, 2011. But then she found out she was pregnant, which of course meant no drinking. "So I was all mad at my husband," she says, laughing. 'Oh, OK, no 40th for me.' So this year's gonna kinda be my 40th."
These past few years, she's been celebrating a lot actually. The healthy baby from that pregnancy (a girl, 3 months old now). Two active sons, ages 2 and 4. A not yet two-year-old marriage. And a ninth album, Austerity, a hearty mix of rock 'n roll, country and folk, released last June.
"The album before Austerity was called Luxury," the Loveland-based musician says. "When we did Luxury we had a big budget. We worked at Colorado Sound, which is state-of-the-art, one of the top Denver studios, did professional photo shoots and all that. And then the recession hit.
"This album that we just did — austerity being the opposite of luxury — we did it in our basements. We did it at home. We mixed and mastered it ourselves. We took the cover photo with a cell phone. People have heard of the word austerity, but they don't always know what it means, and so on the album, there's a definition, meaning economic simplicity."
This type of simplicity reverberates throughout Woo's life. She's cut her performing down by half from about 200 shows a year. She's left most of a traveling lifestyle behind — happy to do shows mostly within driving distance. ("We do better money-wise staying closer to home ... and I don't want to sleep on people's couches anymore," she says with a laugh.) And though Woo says she wrote her first six or seven albums, now she co-writes with her band members — Robin Hoch (vocals/viola/guitar), Chris Maestas (guitar/vocals), Mitch DeZwarte (bass/keyboards), and David Derby (drums) — and draws a lot of inspiration from that process.
"Co-writing was a really nice chance for me to not be so emotionally attached, but be able to take somebody else's words and lyrics and put it to music, which I've kind of learned how to do easily, more easily as I've gotten older."
She's found a similar haven in her recent marriage to Charles Snyder, an engineer for GE.
"My whole life I've dated and been with musicians, and so there's always that kind of competition, you know, to see how you can play. In this relationship I'm in now, instead he's just very supportive and very amazed by the music business, where I'm kind of jaded. But he's breathed new life into it for me."
Of course, she says since they've been writing together he likes to joke about her next album, asking her, "Can you write an album called Songs in the Key of Charles?"
Nope, she says. "I'm coming up on 20 years of doing professional music, so I want to release an acoustic album that's just me and my guitar for the 10th album for the 20th year."