Suzy and Bobby Ronstadt, a keyboardist and songwriter who also spent nearly two decades in Southern California fitfully pursuing a career in music, moved to the outskirts of Tucson in 1996 following the Northridge earthquake that literally and figuratively rattled them both. (Their first date, as it happens, was a Linda Ronstadt concert at the Universal Amphitheatre, on a tour in which she was featuring several songs written by Jimmy Webb.)
About 18 months ago, to land themselves a slot at the annual Tucson Folk Festival, they started I Hear Voices! with friends Bobby Kimmel, who was a member of the Stone Poneys band that launched Linda Ronstadt's celebrated career, and singer Kathy Harris.
For the McCabe's gig they'll be singing originals and some choice cover songs on the bill they share with L.A. area singer-songwriter Tracy Newman. It's something of a homecoming for Kimmel, who started the series of live performances at McCabe's in the late '60s, a tradition that continues today.
So does the emotion Ronstadt experiences hearing Webb's music, despite Ronstadt's complete absence of the slightest hint of regret or rancor about the love affair that couldn't survive.
"Everything we went through then," said Ronstadt, who now works with her husband in a local hospice facility, "has just prepared us for the lives we live now."
Listening to Webb's new version of "Where's the Playground, Suzie" with country singer-guitarist Keith Urban, Ronstadt smiles and proclaims, "That's the best version I've ever heard."
A moment later, she has no words for "MacArthur Park," a song that appears destined to outlive them all. As Webb sings, "There will be another song for me, for I will sing it/There will another dream for me, someone will bring it," Ronstadt pulls her hands to her heart, closes her eyes and smiles knowingly.
I Hear Voices!
With Tracy Newman & the Reinforcements
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: McCabe's Guitar Shop, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica
Information: (323) 828-4497 or http://www.mccabes.com