Vance enthralled us with his moving lyrics and his strong tenor that can morph into a falsetto when needed ... and brought us to histerical laughter with his stand-up riffs on contemporary moires and his beloved poodle Louise and her 3 a.m. ball tricks.
ance Gilbertís brought a handful of new tunes, as he works towards a new album called "Sounds Like...". The concept goes like this: all the tunes are written by him but sound like they were penned by someone else. Brazen, maybe, but a fun and inspiring way to get new material to happen. Tonight he shared with us ones that could have been written by Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and a hilarious one in the style and voice of Tom Waits.
ance burst onto the Boston singer/songwriter scene in the early 90's with a buzz about an ex-multicultural arts teacher and jazz singer who was knocking 'em dead at open mikes. Shawn Colvin invited Vance Gilbert to be special guest on her Fat City tour. Gilbert took audiences across the country by storm, with the voice of an angel, the wit of a devil, and the guitar playing of a god. With the warmth and charm of his buttery tenor, he thrills us with his literate, heartfelt, rippling, emotionally resonant songs.
hether playing for thousands at Summer folk festivals or in intimate surroundings at house concerts, Vance builds a warm relationship with his audience, maintaining a clever sassy dialogue and eliciting smiles and guffaws all around. His repetoire includes standard chestnuts, but shines with his own compositions that span a range with deep humanism and bravery, stunning artistry and soul, and unbridled joy. And there's Gilbert's wizardry on acoustic guitar he pounds, claws, scratches, caresses, and the resulting sounds frame his voice in some natural, elemental way that couldn't result from simple chords or even complex finger-picking.
is most recent CD release, Unfamiliar Moon is Vance Gilbert's most mature and realized recording to date. This is his most anticipated album, as it is jam-packed with songs that fall into "that" category of songwriting the zenith for any writer songs that elicit the response "You wrote that?". Consider Ten Thousand Skies, the opening cut, with itís "Roy Orbison looking for Sam Cooke" feel. Follow that with the gentle heartaching in You Can Go Now, the hurt and hope of the medium rocker Leaving Avon, and the soulwrenching title cut, Unfamiliar Moon, Gilbertís most requested song. Unforgivable is a jazz vocal tour-de-force that still maintains it acoustic roots with a great surprise soloist. Thereís a lot of hope and redemption on this album too, in songs like the solo Your Brighter Day and the rollicking fun of the unedited Iíve Got A Plane. To round out this partial list, Gilbert closes with a haunting revisitation of his acoustic standard Alone Down Here. A perfect mix of lyrical eloquence and musical accessibility, this ids less a recording and more like great performances captured on disc.
Praises for his performances:
Link to his songs on Vance's MySpace page
or go to his web site:
Opening for Vance Gilbert tonight were our featured open mike performers:
Our host tonight was Ira Perlman.