While Boston’s Vance Gilbert is known largely to singer-songwriter circles, to say he draws strictly from the book of Guthrie would be something of a disservice. While his lengthy discography bears many acoustic affairs, there’s a lot of blues in here. Add the fact that Vance got his start as a jazz singer—you can REALLY hear it in his inimitable, vulnerable vocal tones—and you have a unique blend of influences that create something simultaneously familiar and new. While this would be enough for some artists to get by on,Vance also brings significant guitar and lyrical chops to the table. The Boston Globe puts it better than I could, however, when of 2000’s Somerville Live they espoused, “Young songwriters should study this disc the way law students cram for bar exams.”
Turned out that it wasn’t just young songwriters who took note—over the years, Arlo Guthrie and Anita Baker both chose Vance for their support slot on the road, and he spent a year and a half touring in support of the late George Carlin.
Vance’s Nimbit store is a credit to his prolific recording and release schedule—somehow on top of a busy touring schedule, the man has managed to release a dozen albums since kicking off his career as a humble open mic night regular. Well… as humble as one can be when blowing minds. Some are available as digital download, others as CDs, some as both. Noteworthy among them is Side of the Road, a collaboration with fellow Nimbit torchbearer and close friend Ellis Paul.