Vance Gilbert CD Release with
Kevin So and Bernice Williamson
March 2, 1998 @ The Regent Theatre, Arlington, MA
Though the introduction to the first selection was a bit uncertain and
squeaky, the string duet of Kevin So's guitar and Eric Gerber's mandolin
soon became more coherent and comfortable as the crowd was won-over by
So's personable nature. In fact, So only took one song before inducing the
full house (which he considered a "'Kumbaya' kind of crowd") into a
complex sing-along. Not only was Gerber's string work a nice support, but
his echoey backing vocals filled-out So's occasionally strained leads.
However, it was So's intellectual and emotional understanding of his songs
and their subjects which truly made his connection with the audience
complete. In return, the crowd supplied Kevin with energetic harmonies
during the second(!) sing-along which closed the set.
Admitting one offering to be a "schmaltzy" number, Bernice Lewis's
frankness was admirable. However, despite a number of selections about
everyday topics such as death, marriage and procrastination, Lewis's
connection to the crowd was diluted by her nasal vibrato, her insistent
short pride and her more outlandish offerings such as a bouncy, scatty(?)
Steve Martin-esque tribute to Tutankhamun and a song which was "channeled"
during a holistic workshop. Her attempt at collaborative performance was
also a bit hard to stick to as the sing-along element of the song was a
long and not well prepared.
After an intermission, Vance Gilbert took the stage, joined by Loomer
Everett Pendleton, who supplied spare and quick backing guitar work and a
few notable attempts at a mandolin which he had only started playing the
previous Tuesday! Mixing heart-felt emotion with street sensibility and
A.D.D.-fed thought processes, Gilbert also mixed new and old originals
with soulful standards like "Just My Imagination," "Everybody Plays the
Fool" and a slow and soulful "Jimmy Mack." From gentle ballads to raucous
Folk-Rock and Gospelly a cappella, Gilbert drew from a wide array of
styles and painted beautifully with each. Along the way, Gilbert also
shared personal anecdotes and views which further enhanced his musical
observations and stories. As he is a devoted member of the AMA (that's
Academy of Model Aeronautics), it was no surprise that many of Vance's
musical tales dealt with flight and the wonders and mysteries of aerial
freedom. However, even on those selections which had nothing to do with
flight, Gilbert's voice carried his listeners right along on lyrical
As the first of a new concert series at The Regent, Vance Gilbert's
official release of his new album "Shaking Off Gravity" was a great start!
Be sure to watch for future performances. Call Watch City Arts at 781 647
1075 for information.
- Matt Robinson
© 1998 M. S. Robinson, ARR