Best known for her beehive-wearing stint with blues diva Candye Kane in the '90's, Sue Palmer has been making her mark in the last decade with her high energy band, the Motel Swing Orchestra, and her flashy boogie woogie stylings. Wearing a couple of pounds of big cocktail rings on each hand, she wails through a very complete blues keyboard vocabulary like the veteran she is. She has performed with many of the legends of the boogie genre, playing double piano with Marcia Ball, Hadda Brooks, Sonny Leyland, Steve Lucky, Jeannie Cheathem, Ricky Nye, Mr. Boogie Woogie (from the Netherlands), Mike Seeley, Caroline Dahl, Wendy Dewitt, Lisa Otey, and Doña Oxford. Sue, known widely as San Diego's Queen of Boogie Woogie, has been honored by her city for her cultural contributions by having a day named after her (March 25th, 2008), played at the Arches Piano Stage in Cinncinnatti (2008), won the International Blues Challenge in Memphis for Best Self Produced CD 2008 ("Sophisticated Ladies") from the Blues Foundation, won numerous San Diego Music Awards for her albums and bands, including Best Blues Album 2010 for her first solo piano album "After Hours," and in December 2010, won the "Jim Croce Award for Excellence and Dedication to Music, 2010," from his widow, Ingrid Croce. Jan/Feb 2010 brought her a stint as Musical Director for the world premiere of Candye Kane's play, "Toughest Girl Alive," at Moxie Theatre in San Diego. The show played to sold out crowds and rave reviews, and included one of Sue's own compositions (with Kane), Highway of Tears (vocal version of Blue and Tan).
"Her legs bowed intently, the laughter dancing above her fingertips, like a pool shark she is right on the money. Madame Palmer sets free the walking bass and the eight to the bar so inherent in this style of music. This musician possesses all the secrets of Boogie Woogie."
Le Monde, Paris, 1997
For ten years, Sue was the musical partner of singer/recording artist Candye Kane. They toured France and most of Europe, including Scandinavia, Greece, and Turkey. Their travels also took them to Reunion Island, Canada, Australia, and all over the U.S. Under the moniker Sue "Beehive" Palmer with Candye Kane and the Swingin' Armadillos, she appeared on the Penn & Teller Show and the Roseanne Show, where Sue acted as the talk show band leader (1999). Sue is a featured artist on all four of Kane's CDs under the Antones and Sire labels. Sue's instrumental composition "Beehive" was featured on Kane's "Diva La Grande" CD, and Sue and Candye co-wrote the title tune on Kane's CD "Swango." "Swango" is also featured in the documentary "The Girl Next Door," a biography of porn star Stacy Valentine produced by National Public Radio's Christine Fugat in 2000.
Sue has appeared onstage and/or recorded with Lou Ann Barton, Sue Foley, Teddy Morgan, Lavelle White, Kim Wilson, Marcia Ball, Toni Price, The Paladins, Roy Gaines, Rosie Flores, Big Sandy and the FlyRite Boys, Dave Alvin, Cesar Rosas (Los Lobos), Earl Thomas, Del Rey, Lea Delaria, Pussy Tourette, Buddy Blue, Rod Piazza & the Mighty Fliers, Walter Wolfman Washington, and the Subdudes. Sue backed up Floyd Dixon on a compilation album to Tom Waits, "New Coat of Paint." She has been included in the "Queens of Boogie Woogie" Show in Berkeley, CA, at the Freight & Salvage, in 2001-2004. Sue Palmer & Her Motel Swing Orchestra appeared in the San Diego Blues Festival 2002, Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, Mammoth Jazz Jubilee (2005-2010), San Diego Thanksgiving Jazz festival (2008-2010), Ocean Beach Jazz festival (2007) and numerous festivals throughout the years in San Diego. Highlighting her lifetime favorite performances was a Boogie Woogie Extravaganza honoring the original Queen of the Boogie, 85 year old singer songwriter pianist Hadda Brooks... who joined Sue, along with Bay area favorite Wendy Dewitt and Frenchman Philippe Lejeune at San Diego's Dizzy's. That was Hadda's next to last performance. She died November 21st, 2002.
Called "intoxicating and illuminating," Sue's new solo piano album "After Hours" won for Best Blues Album at the San Diego Music Awards, September 2010. Sue performed with the Queens of Boogie Woogie at the Ocean Beach Music Festival 2010, with Lisa Otey, Doña Oxford, and Wendy Dewitt (pictured here with Marcia Ball), to an SRO crowd. Sue's Motel Swing Orchestra continues to make the dancers in San Diego and wherever they perform, "slaves to the dance floor," and Sue will perform abroad again this year, in June and July, with Candye Kane and her band, and her United By Music charity (working with intellectually disabled young adults through music).