How does an established and preeminent acoustic artist like Vance Gilbert follow up his feted cover album Angels, Castles, Covers (2006) and his songwriting watermark Unfamiliar Moon (2005)?
With Up On Rockfield, that's how! Up On Rockfield finds Gilbert exploring and unabashedly celebrating the influence various famous songwriters and performers have had upon his writing. Each song is penned by Gilbert as if he was co-writing with some of his musical heroes. Who else but him could pull off a concept project such as this and have both press and radio giddy with anticipation?
"Up on Rockfield", the opening title track is a soulful call-to-arms of a small community, reminiscent of mid-70's Van Morrison. Then comes the rollicking country rock of "Welcome to Lovetown", joyously sounding like John Hiatt enlisting a hand from Prince. And there is the innocent and wise "Goodbye Pluto", written, says Gilbert, "as if Shawn Colvin and Raffi were to write together."
The lyrical sensibility and jazz quartet approach of Tom Waits is reflected in "Old Man's Advice", while the sparsely instrumented meditation "Judge's House" was written after a spate of listening to Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen, and could readily be in the company of any of the tunes on the latter's Nebraska. "Whatever Louise Wants" is a take on what it would be like "if Richard Thompson was to write a song about my dog...", while banjo and funk become stable mates in the story that is "Sweetwater", sounding as if Al Jarreau and Lynyrd Skynyrd were snowbound at a hotel together and decided to jam.
The lonesome "It'll Never Be Enough" is destined to be some great country singer's quintessential album-ender, while "House Of Prayer" is an actual co-write between Vance and long-time friend Lori McKenna. "Some Great Thing" is Vance's nod to the Gospel stylings of Thomas A. Dorsey, and could easily be part of any religion's hymnal. The album ends with the solo and aching "Sing Me Down", a subtle yet scathing environmental policy indictment that leaves the listener wondering if Bob Dylan was at the other end of the pen.
Vance Gilbert burst onto the singer/songwriter scene in the early 90's when buzz started spreading in the folk clubs of Boston about an ex-multicultural arts teacher who was knocking 'em dead at open mics. Once word got to New York about this Philadelphia-area born and raised performer, Shawn Colvin invited Gilbert to be a special guest on her Fat City tour. Gilbert took audiences across the country by storm. "With the voice of an angel, the wit of a devil, and the guitar playing of a god, it was enough to earn him that rarity: an encore for an opener" wrote the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in its review of a show from that tour. Gilbert's three albums for the Rounder/Philo label - Edgewise (1994), Fugitives (1995), and the celebrated, arrestingly sparse Shaking Off Gravity (1998) - are all essential additions to the American singer-songwriter collection. With guests as varied as Tuck and Patti, Jonatha Brooke, Patty Larkin, Vinx, and Jane Siberry, all three albums found significant niches on NAC (New Adult Contemporary) and Non-Commercial A3 (Adult Album Alternative) radio.
These discs were followed by the self-released Somerville Live (2000), lionized by the Boston Globe as the disc "young songwriters should study the way law students cram for bar exams," and One Thru Fourteen (2002), a stylistically varied offering that New York's Town and Village called "lively, eclectic, electrifying and transcending." Gilbert followed with Side Of The Road (2003), a duo album with Ellis Paul, lauded as "haunting, artful, and lovely" by Boston Magazine and nominated for a 2004 Boston Music Award. Unfamiliar Moon (2005) came as an impressive continuation to this mostly original composition discography. "The songwriter's most compelling work; literate, heartfelt, ripplingemotionally resonant songs" raved the Boston Globe, placing the album in its Top 10 CDs of the year (#4). On Angels, Castles, Covers, "Gilbert's choice of an album of covers seems both fitting and fearless. he displays his vocal virtuosity with some unexpected choices from the late 20th century songbook. From the sounds of Motown, through the R&B of Al Green to classic Joni Mitchell and Shawn ColvinHe makes each and every tune sound fresh and new." writes Roberta Schwartz of FAME.
Gilbert then launched into a year and a half as support for George Carlin, leading up to the creation and recording of Up On Rockfield. Up On Rockfield is indeed Vance Gilbert's career-crowning achievement. This tour de force of borrowed styles is classic Vance Gilbert original songwriting at its most timeless, compelling best. Gilbert unflinchingly renders blame and absolution, trapped hearts and free-riders, class and station, uncertainty and resolution, the spiritual and the visceral, the forever and the now, all side by side in song. His is a presentation steeped in deep humanism and bravery, stunning artistry and soul, and unbridled joy. No great surprise to the learned acoustic listener.
This is Vance Gilbert, after all.
Looking for contemporary acoustic music peppered with rhythm and spice? Patti DeRosa conjures up an eclectic mix of musical magicit's a soft finger-picking ballad and a jazzy groove, an island rhythm and an edgy rocker, a political commentary and a humorous rhyme, strong originals and unique coversYou never know what you're going to get and DeRosa likes it that way. She revels in diversity, both personally and musically (when she's not making music, she's the President of ChangeWorks Consulting, which focuses on workplace and community diversity.
Her music is a treat that is delivered with a stage presence that draws the audience in and warms the heart. She is a powerful presence, equally, fun, funky, and sizzling.
Patti has shared the bill with artists such as Antje Duvekot, Emma's Revolution, Vance Gilbert, Vicki Genfan, Terence Martin, Lisa Moscatiello, Kevin So, and even the Four Tops. Touring locally, nationally, and internationally, she has performed throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, El Salvador, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
She has 3 CDs: "Packing My Bags" (2011), a live CD that captures the true feel and fun of a live concert; "Secrets and Stories" (2007) featuring a band of stellar musicians and bursting with the flavors of folk, jazz, R&B, rock, and funk, and "Paradise" (2005), her premier acoustic project with basic acoustic arrangements and an island feel.
Patti started writing songs as soon as she got her first guitar when she was thirteen years old living in Long Island, NY. She moved to Boston to pursue graduate studies in social work and African American studies, and continued to be a frequent performer in the Boston and New York folk scene. At one point, she put down her guitar for the steel drums, as her love of Caribbean music and culture lead her to join the Boston-based Metro Steel Orchestra, where she played "pan", sang, and even did the limbo. She took a long hiatus from the music world to dedicate herself to her passion for social justice, but the draw of her music was too compelling, and in 2004, Patti picked up her guitar and returned to performing. She currently lives in the Boston area and when she is not playing music, you're likely to find her writing, reading, dancing, laughing with friends, sipping wine, or planning yet another escape to a new far-away destination.
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