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.
Billy Walton Band
There was a time when the Jersey Shore represented the best in American entertainment. Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, the Rat Pack, Dick Clark, Chubby Checker… they all made stops on the Jersey Shore. Tony Mart’s was the club Levon Helm was playing when Dylan called. Of course, we all know what happened in Asbury Park. The town, ravaged by riots in the late 60s, became a melting pot of musical experimentation. Late-night jams that ended when the sun came up were the norm. Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny were the two acts that made their way to an international stage from these humble beginnings.
For decades musicians have come and gone, always hoping to make a living and pursue a dream. Billy Walton is no different. Billy’s proving ground was Long Beach Island. Too young to drive around and enter the clubs on his own, Billy was chaperoned from gig to gig by his mom, always up for a jam and looking to learn some tricks. For years Billy spent his time sharpening his skills, developing his stage act until he decided to step up to center stage with the Billy Walton Band.
Billy’s talent was noticed by NJ legend Southside Johnny and was he invited to join the band. This is when Billy began formulating his version of the Jersey Shore sound. On his latest release, Wish For What You Want, Billy brought award-winning producer Tony Braunagel (Eric Burdon, Trampled Under Foot, Phantom Blues Band) into the mix to turn his musical vision into reality. The resulting sound is straight-up bluesy rock, no chaser, that’s a perfect fit for a Saturday night or a long drive.
The Billy Walton Band’s Nimbit store offers four full-length albums and an EP, as well as a four-album combo pack for just $20.
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