Before ultimately growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, singer-songwriter Foy Vance spent five years in the American Bible Belt with his dad, a traveling minister. And so he’s as equally influenced by Otis Redding and Nina Simone as he is the Belfast Cowboy, Van Morrison—Vance’s music a winning mash-up of blues, soul, jazz, rock and British folk. After fronting several bands, Vance (above, performing “She Burns”) finally put out his debut solo full-length, Hope (stream it below), which AllMusic notes is “as optimistic and mood-lifting as its title suggests,” in 2007. He’s since remained busy and in demand, releasing a slew of EPs and touring with the likes of Ed Sheeran. His third long-player, The Wild Swan (stream it below), out last year, was produced by Elton John and Sheeran and earned the musician comparisons to Bruce Springsteen. “The Wild Swan finds Vance offering up another master class in contemporary, Emerald Isle–infused roots rock,” says AllMusic. And like Springsteen’s catalog, Foy Vance’s music is best experienced live. Sunday’s show is already sold out, but you can catch him live on Monday at Roulette.
Tag Archives: Nina Simone
Because her family often moved, growing up, Arum Rae attended “a different school every year and always ended up in choir or music programs.” The singer later attended the Berklee School of Music where she took up playing the guitar, while studying the vocal stylings of Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald. And then, naturally, she began writing her own songs. Rae (above, doing “Heaven” for Jam in the Van at SXSW), who used to perform under the name White Dress, makes the kind of music that doesn’t focus on just one genre, instead employing bits of country, soul, blues and rock. Last year, the singer-songwriter released a pair of EPs, Waving Wild and Warranted Blues (stream them below), each showcasing her powerhouse voice. A native of Austin, Texas, but a resident of Brooklyn, Arum Rae plays Mercury Lounge tomorrow night with Pavement drummer Steve West as a special guest.
Tags: Arum Rae, Berklee School of Music, Ella Fitzgerald, Live Music, Mercury Lounge, Music, Nina Simone, Preview, Steve West, Video, Warranted Blues, Waving Wild
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Leon Bridges – Mercury Lounge – February 17, 2015
On the strength of just two songs—produced by White Denim guitarist Austin Jenkins and drummer Josh Block—posted to his Soundcloud, Leon Bridges announced his considerable talents to the world a few months back. Not much was known about him beyond his name and that he hailed from Fort Worth, Texas—and oh, yeah, his gospel-meets-soul vocals reminiscent of Sam Cooke’s. And from there things began to build. Bridges was signed to Columbia Records (a full-length album is due later this year), and he further made a name for himself performing alongside much bigger acts at a Nina Simone tribute at Sundance last month. This week he arrived in New York City for a pair of dates supporting Sharon Van Etten at Warsaw, plus his very own headlining show at Mercury Lounge last night, which sold out well in advance.
Bridges took the stage, stylishly dressed to match his timeless sound, modern while evoking the past, joined by Jenkins and Block, plus another guitarist, a bassist and a sax player, all dressed in suits, and two backing singers in dresses. It’s probably safe to assume that the majority of the people in the room only knew, at best, two songs. And the eight-piece kicked off the set with one of them, “Better Man.” Bridges is still relatively new to touring and performing—he didn’t even introduce the band—so he didn’t chat too much between songs, although he did say, “This next one’s dedicated to Rosario Dawson” before they launched into “Brown Skin Girl.”
The second tune everyone seemed to know, “Coming Home,” had the swaying crowd singing along. Bridges gave others their own moments to shine, especially Block, who, resembling a young Levon Helm, held together everything over the course of the 50-minute performance. The stage cleared after the 12th song, but after some hearty applause, Bridges returned on guitar backed by just the two singers for a gorgeous “River,” eliciting some of the loudest crowd response of the night and smiles across the packed room. It was the perfect musical antidote to the cold, snowy night. The singer-songwriter is still raw, he’s not even six months removed from bussing tables, but big things await Leon Bridges.
—R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog
Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com