Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vance Gilbert @ The Iron Horse, September 12th, 2008

I last saw Vance Gilbert at Falcon Ridge this past July. He autographed one my CDs, making it out to "NicKKK." To paraphrase Matt, my colleague in all things political science and folk music, Vance Gilbert gets away with saying things that no white performer could get away with (especially not at a folk music concert). On the evening of the 12th, he did not disappoint either Naomi or myself, treating us to some tasty guitar playing, extraordinary singing, good-to-great songs, and some politically incorrect comments about the very few blacks in the audience.

The opening act was Rebecca Correia. We only caught her last couple of songs. She has some pipes; no doubt. Her songs didn't really register with us. Naomi thought she was boring, and I had to agree. She came out to join Vance Gilbert for his encore, and she showed what she was capable of by (almost) matching Vance's vocal gymnastics. Impressive.

Vance Gilbert....The man knows how to sing. And write. And work a room. Upon pointing out all the black people in the audience: "we're the only chocolate chips in this cookie." His latest album is his latest gimmick: a bunch of songs written in the style of some other songwriter. "Whatever Louise Wants"--Richard Thompson. "Old Man's Advice"--Tom Waits. "Judge's House"--Bruce Springsteen/Steve Earle. And so forth. They were good. He also did "Unfamiliar Moon," which I recall really enjoying at Falcon Ridge. Plus, "Taking it All to Tennessee." In between songs, he joked around, told us about his dog, told us about his touring life, told us about how privileged and successful he felt to be doing what he was doing, and called out to some folks who'd just entered the Iron Horse: "you're late!" He made some small talk with some folks sitting in the front row. He praised his opening act. After the show, Naomi pointed out his warm stage presence. It's true. This ain't no Loudon Wainright III or Randy Newman, bad boys who probably are the jerks they often seem like in their songs. Vance is an ole' softie. Who can really sing.

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