Sue Foley - Ice Queen - Live Jazz Bistro 2016

Mix - Sue Foley

The crowd is hushed except for the occasional yelp of approval. She is coaxing sweet singing tones from the guitar with her unique style of picking and plucking the strings with thumb and fingers.

The crowd is hushed except for the occasional yelp of approval. She is coaxing sweet singing tones from the guitar with her unique style of picking and plucking the strings with thumb and fingers. The tone lingers in the air like the scent of hibiscus on a summer night. Her eyes are closed as her music washes over her and the rapt audience.

Because the sounds coming out of the pink Tele are beyond good, they are evidence of a master at work. Foley grew up in Ottawa, Canada listening to all manner of music. The label brought her to Austin, auditioned her and promptly signed her.

Foley moved to Austin to begin her recording career and honing her live act with tours throughout the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. Since then, she has racked up an impressive array of awards.

There is a vibrant Blues scene here with a thriving community of musicians and fans. They can hear the years of dedication to craft that create the subtle tones of an intimate lead break. She stretches out long, languorous notes, and then yanks the audience out of its reverie with some high octane pyrotechnics. The crowd happily goes with her, up, down and around her full ahead Blues guitar roller coaster. It is this ability to move from gentle caresses to full frontal attack that sets her apart from many of her peers.

Foley owns the stage. One minute purposefully striding from one side to the other, her trademark fiery red hair flashing in the afternoon sun, the next minute trading licks with her impressive piano player, Graham Guest. She won the crowd with her first number, a raucous, rocking number that shows off her deep familiarity with the fretboard.

This is a masterful performance, honed by more than 32 years of performing professionally. She barely pauses between songs, determined to give the audience what they came for. After being in the business for as long as she has, she has seen a lot of changes in the Blues.

Is the current state of the Blues a cause for concern? We have traditional Blues artists, rocking Blues, all types. And Blues music being made all over the world — Canada, Europe, wherever. But the way I see it is that all music evolves.

It has to, or it dies. And Blues is evolving. Back when the Blues was born, musicians played all kinds of different songs, but they were still the Blues. I mean the whole point of this form is its free, improvisational, flexible structure. Does it feel like the Blues? With Muddy, it was especially how he bent the notes.

Even today, there are few who can squeeze more from a note than Muddy. There are lots of players who moving the Blues along, keeping it relevant to new audiences. In fact, Foley collaborated with two contemporary women players, Deborah Coleman and fellow Ottawa native Roxanne Potvin, on her collaboration, Time Bombed. In addition to receiving rave reviews, it is also one a CD Foley is very proud.

Asked if being a woman has a particular influence on playing guitar, Foley has a lot to say. And a lot to back it up. In , she began interviewing female guitarists from around the world and from many different genres — Blues, rock, roots, folk, flamenco, classical. Not everyone is sure it makes a difference at all. The way I see it is, I can crank it up to match any man and I have seen a lot of male players capable of great sensitivity.

They provide an intimate and illuminating look at the inner workings of these superb musicians and the times that shaped their playing. The interviews are well worth reading. Was that a hindrance? They hit it off professionally and personally, eventually releasing two truly terrific CDs. The first, He Said — She Said was inspired by the emails they exchanged as they getting to know each other while they were on separate tours.

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The resulting CD is personal and universal at the same time. They followed this up with Beyond The Crossroads, another excellent CD that threw the sophomore curse to the side of the road. She is herself a student of American roots and Blues music and plans to pursue a Ph. But most of all, after so many collaborations, Foley is getting back to her own music.

I still have lots of stories to tell. If you are already one of her dedicated fans, you know the breadth of music she is capable of. She is one of those rare artists who can convey the same energy in the studio that she generates live, in front of an audience.

Watching them all — Foley, other big name artists, and local players who were on stage earlier — it is easy to see that Foley is absolutely right.

The Blues is in great shape indeed. Please follow and like us:

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