We all have that fantasy of discovering a musical artist in some dark, smoky speakeasy-type dive, or at least real music fans do. We want that secretive, co-dependent relationship with a singer who sits atop a stool at the corner of the bar with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a voice you carry away in your soul.
Ruthie Foster is that secret, although the secret is getting less well-kept by the day. Despite this, Foster’s performances are no less personal than they were before people started paying attention. While it’s baffling that the majors haven’t again come calling on her hybrid of blues, gospels, and folk music (she signed to Atlantic briefly in ’93), she’s not hurting when you consider the number of albums she’s selling independently. Like Melissa Ferrick, Foster has discovered being your own boss doesn’t mean you haven’t made it. After all, this is the same singer who sold more than 1000 albums a day at the Canadian Folk Festival, breaking indie queen Ani DiFranco’s record.
| Current Choice |
Sun, November 13
$10 ($5 for students)
Music Building Recital Hall
Pleasant Street and N. LBJ Drive,
Her latest is Stages, an album of live performances recorded in Austin and Boston. Standards abound, such as “Another Rain Song” and the reggae-flavored “Real Love,” but there are also great takes on Brownie McGhee’s “Walk On” and Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child.” In addition, her downbeat, soul-stirring cover of another notable Foster, Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susannah,” finds her in particularly fine form.
Stages is one of those rare live CDs that comes close to capturing the energy of a singer who has made her life onstage, wooing crowds with her bluesy singing and sugar-sweet soul. With her partner Cyd Cassone on percussion, Ruthie Foster will do nothing less than leave you wishing you had been there for the dark, smoky bars. •