Foy Vance

The one single artist that stands out from the rest of the musicians on our Blues Cruise, is Foy Vance.  I’ll include a bio of him below that I copied off of the web, but in a nutshell, Foy Vance is the kind of singer that makes you stop whatever it is that you are doing, and listen.

Born in Northern Ireland, Foy typically plays by himself, with an acoustic guitar and a microphone.  All he really needs is his voice, which is smokey and bluesy. But along with that, he has his Apple computer sitting nearby on a stool, and a foot pedal that allows him to do some magic with his on-stage performance.  He gets a nice rhythm going on his guitar, steps on a button to start the digital recording, and steps on it again to end the process.  Now he’s got the chords looped and they play on as he prepares the next layer.  He pushes the pedal again and lays down a percussion track by slapping his hand against his guitar.  Layer and loop that.  And finally, he holds the guitar to his mouth and creates some whale noises, or bird whistles to give atmosphere to the soundtrack.  Finally, he settles into his chair, adjusts the microphone, and then picks individual notes over his background music he just created.  When he opens his mouth and sings, oh my!  He’s got this growling, raspy voice that transitions from a whisper to an agonizing wail, and then back to a whisper.  He is spellbinding with what he does, and what he sings.

When Foy finishes his performances, he asks that you not applaud, but to please keep singing his chorus as he exits, which we did.  It was a spiritual experience as we kept the song alive in a-capella. 

Later in the day, Foy was standing in a hallway, so Patty and I introduced ourselves and thanked him for sharing his music with us – but – he need not worry , as he requested, we won’t clap.  We’ll just sing.  He got a good chuckle out of that and then said with is strong Irish accent, “Well then, I’ll clap for you!  Ladies and Gentlemen, Patty and Wayne!”

Foy has played with Pete Townsend and his songs have been featured on the TV show Gray’s Anatomy.

I’ll post a few videos, because no words can describe what Foy is all about.  I bought the album too, and every song is brilliant.  Oh, and Foy signed the album for me, too!

Here’s one more video where Foy plays with Mike Farris and his gospel-rich blues band.  Mike was on the cruise too, but that will be tomorrow’s blog.  Enjoy Foy first as he sings ‘Let It Rain’.

About Foy Vance

Though he spent most of his formative years in the grim surroundings of 1980s Belfast, singer/songwriter Foy Vance’s musical vision is the product of an entirely different sort of nervous tension — the cross-racial friction, harmony, and disharmony that gave rise to jazz, blues, and soul in the American South, where Vance, the son of a traveling church minister, spent the pivotal first five years of his life. Drawn particularly to the spiritual aspect of those music forms, Vance took his cues from the likes of Otis Redding and Nina Simone, adjusting his own guttural singing style accordingly, and his distinctive Northern Irish lilt finds an obvious point of comparison in similarly styled compatriot Van Morrison. Musically, Vance draws as much from the British folk tradition as he does American music; this influence manifests itself in the rhythmic, invariably alternately tuned, acoustic guitar style that is almost as prominent a melodic voice on much of his work as piano or vocals.

Vance was born in Bangor, Northern Ireland, in 1974, but his preacher father packed the family up and moved to Oklahoma, deep in the U.S. Bible Belt, shortly after the birth of the family’s youngest son. Traveling around the poor churches of the South, Vance developed a keen interest in music from a very early age; he observed soul, gospel, and blues up close, and this interest was facilitated by his musical father, who taught his son to play some basic acoustic guitar patterns. By age five, the family had returned to Northern Ireland, settling in Belfast, but Vance retained his interest in American music, and expanded his scope to include folk, rock, and pop styles. During the ’90s, he spent time as lead singer with Belfast soul troupe Soul Truth, but eventually returned to the acoustic guitar and fell into the role of a singer/songwriter.

In 1998, shortly after marrying his fiancée Joanne (a noted visual artist), Foy was offered a residency in a bar on the Canary Island of Lanzarote. Barely two months later, he had an on-stage epiphany while during one of his regular lyrical improv sessions, resulting in the line: “Jesus is coming like a thief in the night.” The following morning, he found out that his father had suffered a sudden, fatal heart attack the previous night. From that point on, the songs flowed a lot more freely; within eight months he had assembled enough material for four albums. It would be another five years before he issued his debut commercial recording, by which point he had become a celebrated live performer all over the U.K. Released in August 2005, the six-track EP Live Sessions & the Birth of the Toilet Tour was recorded in various lavatory stalls across the U.K. and Ireland; Foy found the studio a sterile environment in which to record, preferring instead the unique acoustics of the cubicle. In 2006, two of his demo recordings were picked up for use in the hit U.S. medical drama Grey’s Anatomy: “Gabriel and the Vagabond” and “Homebird,” the latter forming the foundation for his second EP release, also entitled Homebird, in June of that year.

In July of 2007 Vance issued his debut album, Hope, in Northern Ireland via Wurdamouth Records. It was recorded in a cottage deep in the Mourne Mountains in his native County Down, and was co-mixed by producer Tchad Blake (Tom Waits, American Music Club). Shortly afterwards, Vance inked a deal with Rubyworks Records, the Dublin, Ireland-based label that launched Rodrigo y Gabriela onto the world stage, and a release of Hope in the Republic of Ireland followed in September of 2007. As of October 2007, Foy Vance was working on his second studio album with producer David Holmes, the man behind the soundtracks for the Ocean’s Eleven film series. ~ Dave Donnelly, Rovi

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About Wayne to the Max

Active writer, dancer, traveler, Christian and father, aviation enthusiast, photographer, music lover and a DJ, hiker, Harley driver and fine wine drinker. My digital photo artist page:
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1 Response to Foy Vance

  1. Cheryl Kosec says:

    OMG- he is awesome! I def. am going to have to download one, if not more, of his EP’s! Which ones did you get? I recognize his voice from Grey’s Anatomy. Often wondered who has done some of the songs. Thanks for the post and I’m glad you had such a wonderful experience!

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