Vance Gilbert ~ 2016 June 4 ~ Amazing Things Art Center ~ Framingham, MA
Vance Gilbert, vocals and guitar; opening set Kenny Selcer, vocals and guitar, Steve Gilligan, vocals and bass
Scroll down past the videos for review.
Pie and Whiskey
Meaning of Existence
Vance Gilbert has the voice of an angel, the humor of a devil, and the guitar skill of a god, according to the M.C. who introduced him. He also has big hair, a gentle personality, and an extremely eclectic musical style. He began the show by announcing he was "glad to be black, uh, back in Framingham," and then praised the venue for selecting such a wonderful name. "Amazing things!" he declared, with enthusiasm, and listed the bland names of some of the other coffeehouses he has played. He then spent a good deal of the time teasing audience members in a good-natured way, complimenting a woman on her matching purse and outfit, inquiring of an African-American man if he was what he expected, and singing a song about a working person to a man who said he was an artisan.
He played a 17 song set that varied widely from new songs of his ("Pie and Whiskey") to old, familiar songs of his ("Goodbye Pluto," "Unfamiliar Moon"). He included a three-song set of Brazilian samba music. He tossed out a witty improvised tribute to the Amazing Things venue to the tune of "Amazing Grace." He recited an a cappella poem, "The Day Before November," in which the kids of many different races use Hallowe'en as the moment to pull a prank or two on a neighborhood household. The encore began with "My Bad," a song he describes as what would happen if pop songwriters of today got together to write a hit for a reincarnated Billie Holiday. He has some jazz about him, he has some folk about him, he even has some Celtic about him (the second encore of "Spencer the Rover"). The show was thoroughly entertaining and the audience left feeling that sense of uplifting optimism that can only come from great music.
The show was opened by singer-songwriter Kenny Selcer on guitar and vocals accompanied by Steve Gilligan (of The Stompers) on bass and vocals. They performed four songs of Kenny's and a Marvin Gaye cover ("What's Going On"). Kenny and Steve both have marvelous voices and their harmony singing was first rate. Kenny is a fine songwriter and their short set was the perfect opener for the magnificent Vance Gilbert.
The Amazing Things Art Center is a fine venue, about a block south of the Boston Marathon course on Rte. 126, with a big parking lot, comfortable seats, and delicious coffee and brownies for sale. It is housed in a converted firehouse and features a series of ongoing art shows in the upstairs galleries.
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