Vance Gilbert Comes to Nashville With BaD Dog Buffet
Can something be wry, aching, hysterical, evocative, provocative, fun, beautifully sung, and consummately played all at once? Can it?
That’d be Vance Gilbert and Vance’s transcendent new album BaD Dog Buffet.
With the generous assistance from a varied list of super-respected guests—including Celtic harpist/singer Aine Minogue, bluegrass boys Darol Anger and Joe Walsh Jr., jazz sax player Grace Kelly, country rock hero Roy Sludge, and guitar mainstay Kevin Barry—this talented man’s musical truth plays out shamelessly on BaD Dog Buffet.
Fully funded by his fans, the record has so far received raves reviews based solely on the material folks knew would be on it! Those who know and love Vance have already enjoyed the wry, life-loving capitulation of “God Bless Everyone,” the seething rocker “Nothing from You,” and the tongue-in-cheek, happy break-up song, “Out the Way We Came In. “First Ring” is a Vance classic, a banjo- love story rooted in folk whimsy, while “Kiss the Bad Boys” sounds like what would happen if Bootsy Collins and Bruce Springsteen were trapped in an elevator and ended up writing a song together. “Unfamiliar Moon,” which some may know as Vance’s signature song—a tune that landed him in the second round of auditions of TV’s “America’s Got Talent”—is revisited here in a pared down version with Anger on fiddle.
Other songs deserve your attention, too, but don’t take our word for it. You’ll have to hear the record for yourself.
Like all great artists, Vance truly happens live. In fact he developed his reputation with his jaw-dropping, diverse, funny, devastating, and gorgeous live performances. Arlo Guthrie, Anita Baker, the late George Carlin have all requested Vance to be added to their bills.
When he initially burst onto the Northeast singer-songwriter scene in the early 90’s, buzz spread quickly. Who was this multicultural arts teacher knocking them dead at open mikes? And why was he so funny? One of Vance’s first big gigs, opening Shawn Colvin’s 1992 Fat City tour, flung the door wide open for the artist and he strode gracefully through it, taking much of America by storm and by surprise. “With the voice of an angel, the wit of a devil, and the guitar playing of a god, it was enough to earn him that rarity: an encore for an opener,” wrote the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in its review of a show from the Colvin tour.
Vance followed with three acclaimed albums for the Rounder/Philo label—Edgewise (1994), Fugitives (1995), and Shaking Off Gravity (1998)—all of which found significant niches on NAC (New Adult Contemporary) and non-commercial A3 radio. These releases were followed by Somerville Live (2000), which was lionized by the Boston Globe as the disc “young songwriters should study the way law students cram for bar exams.” One Thru Fourteen (2002) proceeded that with a stylistically varied approach that New York’s Town and Village called “lively, eclectic, electrifying and transcending.”
Gilbert followed with a duo album wth his friend Ellis Paul, entitled Side Of The Road (2003). Boston magazine lauded the recording as “haunting, artful, and lovely” and it was nominated for a Boston Music Award. Then came Unfamiliar Moon (2005), referred to by the Globe as “the songwriter’s most compelling work; literate, heartfelt, rippling … emotionally resonant.” The Globe placed the album on its Top 10 list that year.
In 2006, Angels, Castles, Covers (2006) displayed his vocal virtuosity, with some unexpected choices from the late 20th century songbook, including the sounds of Motown, the R&B of Al Green, and classic Joni Mitchell …
Vance then launched into a year and a half as support for George Carlin, leading up to the creation and recording of Up On Rockfield (2008), a landmark album noted for being written in the styles of some of his favorite songwriters. Vintage Guitar was one of many media outlets that raved about the album, calling it a must-hear. “Vance’s fervor for composing is as powerful as a Colorado thunderstorm.”
Old White Men, his tenth release, received similar accolades. The Boston Event Guide called it “brilliant, poignant lyricism” while Minor 7th said he sounded in “complete command, provocative … I’m compelled to listen to it over and over,” mused the reviewer. “Vance, you sing like an angel! Is there anything you don’t do well?”
Which brings us full circle to BaD Dog Buffet, the latest in a growing, glowing oeuvre and an evocative catalog created by a cornerstone acoustic artist.