Vance Gilbert bio
“If Joni Mitchell and Richie Havens had a love child, with Rodney Dangerfield as the midwife, the results might be something close to the great Vance Gilbert", says Richmond Magazine.
Vance's new album, "The Mother Of Trouble”, features Grammy winner Lori McKenna on background vocals, Juno award recipient and Bonnie Raitt Grammy hit song co-writer Joey Landreth on guitars, and Americana-Roots master mandolinist Joe K. Walsh. With 4 bullies, 4 deaths (3 of them murders), 3 moms, 2 accidents, 2 Black people, 2 dogs, 1 dog ball, 1 gay kid, and 1 missed flight thanks to gas station sushi, this album benefits from the gifts of time and experience honing songwriting skills that put this most vital of acoustic storytellers at the top of the game.
Oh, and Management wants to make sure to tell you that this is the 14th release for this acoustic stalwart.
30 years into his career, the songwriter’s influence can be felt all over the contemporary Folk and Americana realm as he has helped pave the way for many of the BIPOC artists who have followed.
Vance was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. Starting out hoping to be an R&B and jazz singer once at college, there he discovered his affinity for the storytelling sensibilities of the acoustic singer-songwriter thing. Word spread like wildfire about Gilbert's stage-owning singing and playing, and Shawn Colvin invited him to be special guest on her 1992 Fat City tour where he took much of America by storm and by surprise. “With the voice of an angel, the wit of a devil, and the guitar playing of a god..” wrote the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Noted not only for being the ever consummate performer, Gilbert has recorded 13 albums, including 5 for Philo/Rounder Records. Along with being opener of choice for artists as varied as Arlo Guthrie, Anita Baker, The Milk Carton Kids, and Southside Johnny, the mid 2000’s found Gilbert opening 150+ shows for comedian George Carlin.
Gilbert has also been a prominent presence at some of the world’s most prestigious gatherings and halls, among them the Newport, Winnipeg, Rocky Mountain, Calgary, Ottawa, and Falcon Ridge Folk festivals, the Kate Wolf Music Festival, and Australia’s Woodford Folk and Mullum Music Festivals, Mountain Stage, Boston's Symphony Hall, Nashville’s Lyman Auditorium, The Barns at Wolftrap, and a private party for his veterinarian where there was terrific lo-mein.
Most recently he’s been the opener of choice for Mad About You/Stranger Things star Paul Reiser’s stand-up shows (50 +) for the last 7 years, along with his own busy acoustic music touring and coaching schedule. That current schedule includes Vance’sMondayNightAcousticPajamaParty on YouTube. Having started the first week of the pandemic in 2020, Vance has played a live, themed, weekly 90 minute mixed bag of originals and cover tunes to a rotating following of about 200 folks. 10 to 20% of his weekly tip jar is donated to a local 501(c)3 of his choice. At the time of this writing, having done 155 of these shows has become newsworthy in itself.
Gilbert has been a songwriting, performance, and voice coach all around the world, kinda, from Australia to Winnipeg, at all the festivals above plus The Kerrville and Rocky Mountain Song Schools, he is currently on staff as Instructor/Professor at the University Of Colorado Denver and has a decade worth of summer programs at the Berklee College Of Music under his belt. What? Private coaching? Yes, 6-10 students weekly too.
Considered by many to be an integral part of the national folk scene, his previous record "Good Good Man" features an eclectic roster of musical types including rocker Mike Posner, world renown Celtic harpist Aine Minough, bluesman Chris Smither, and Al Green’s organist Stacey Wade.
Gilbert runs 3 to 4 miles ever so slowly 5 days a week to stay sharp for the road and does historical aviation research and model building just for great nerdy fun.
He even has a tune on a Grammy Nominated children’s album. How rounded is that?