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Singer-songwriters Susan Levine and Doug Kwartler form duo


Singer-songwriters Susan Levine and Doug Kwartler met at the North Shore Folk Festival in Salem in 2010.

Later, she was looking for someone to record with “and took him one song and he did a brilliant job,” Levine said of Kwartler, who produces and records other artists’ works at his Hollow Body Studio in Chelmsford.

“He backed me up on a few gigs and we made a nice duo,” she said.

About 1½ years ago, Levine and Kwartler began performing together regularly and formed The Lied To’s (liedtomusic.com). The release of their debut CD was celebrated at Club Passim last Sunday.


“It’s the place to play,” said Levine, who released solo albums at the Cambridge club in 2001 and 2007.

Married to other people when they met, Levine, 45, of Newburyport and Kwartler, 47, of Chelmsford, are now divorced, each the parent of two children, and a couple.

A music therapist, Levine has been performing as a solo artist for a decade-and-a-half and never considered being part of a duo.

“When we started playing together, I said to Doug, ‘This is something special; we should do more of this,’ and it evolved,” she said. “Doug has a way of inviting you to play with him and feel relaxed. I would not have played mandolin in public without him. And it challenged me to sing more harmony.”

As for the duo’s new music, Kwartler said, “Susan comes from a folk singer-songwriter background. I come from more of a classic rock background.”

Levine said that combination gives their sound “more of an edge. It’s a good combo.”

Last fall they debuted some songs off their album at The Bluebird Café, a performance space featured in the TV show “Nashville.”

“The Bluebird has been on my bucket list forever,” said Levine. “It was a packed joint and so exciting to be there.”


But that does not mean they are abandoning local venues. They perform regularly at 17 State St Cafe in Newburyport, with an upcoming appearance 8 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday.

Wendy Killeen can be reached at wdkilleen