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Club Passim Cambridge 5/3 and a Road Blog of Joy

Yep. Here they are. 1005 copies of Nearness Of You

And here's where I'll be with a whole box of them:

Friday, 10am live on WUMB 91.9 FM (

to support:
Gimmie a couple of days to get them up on my website, iTunes, CD Baby, etc. You'll be able to download it digitally too.
Funders who requested CDs, I am packing yours up as we speak…
Here was my weekend on the road. I'm gonna tell you everything. It's long, I hope you don't mind..
You have to understand that as management for Vance Gilbert Music, I fuss and obsess over what the number of presale tickets are and such. It's part of my job. Someone has to care about it, trends, numbers, and all what they are. I'm artist, road manager, promoter, publicist, co-social media manager, accountant, co-booking agent all rolled into one. So it falls on me. 
Stop telling me not to worry.

So Friday I was driving to The Avalon Theatre in Easton MD listening to a biography of Albert Einstein - don't ask, I just love biographies of physicists - and once I'm in range, like Bridgeport,  I switch on WFUV. Now, they're an acoustic, AAA, Americana, indie rock kinda station, and I'm expecting the usual Flatlanders, Van Morrison, St. Vincent, Lucinda Williams etc. I'm listening and just cruising in a preoccupied fashion, hand wringing just a bit over the 15 pre-sale tickets at the Avalon. So when Dennis Elsas played Do it by Tuxedo -  a 70's-vibe-driven dance tune (big hearted video here:, I nearly stopped the car in the middle of the Merritt Parkway to get out and dance. Suddenly this road trip was looking up.
So I come back with my Chinese food to the Avalon and slowly that 15 resale turns into about 40 in a room that seats 60. And I put on a killer show. I play old Vance tunes by request that I forgot that I remembered. As I was getting out of the orange shoes, most folks had left save for this one group of four. Two of them were older - 70's, and the grandmotherly woman of that pair asked me "So, what kind of guitar is that" Thank God I laid all pretention aside and explained what the guitar was. Thank goodness I gave the the guitar to strum. This woman, who's name escapes me, Travis picked and sung through the finest 3 country folk tunes I've heard in ages. I'm standing there agape with orange shoes in my hand. 
I love gifts like that.
Then the next morn I'm driving 4 hours to Park Ridge NJ to the Acoustic Cafe in the Our Lady Of Mercy gymnasium to a pre-sale of 11 people. 
Eleven. 11. 
Now, to the credit of all that put this show on, with a few chairs and lighting Barbara Roehrer and her staff make this place feel delightfully intimate with great sound, full-court basketball hoops and all. Annika Scillipote, friend and 17 year old wunderkind (Patty Griffin meets John Mayer meets Shawn Colvin) is to open the show. I love this child. Like a daughter/niece to me. We have stuff to play on iTunes for each other, so we head to my van and plug our phones into my car stereo. First I pull up is the Tuxedo tune, and we're bopping to it, trying to figure if the bass line is a keyboard or an electric bass put though a phase, and it is 'loud' in this car, and this older white lady pulls up next to us to go to evening services in the main hall. She sees this big, old, hairy black man with a 17 year old white girl in a car head-bopping listening to this funkiest of tunes, and her eyes pop, she averts her head away from us, and runs, and I mean runs into the church. Annika and I just die laughing. I am so certain we got prayed for that evening.

70 people show up to this shindig, and it was wondrous and magical to watch Annika simply blow me off of the stage (and I put on a great set). Let's be for real, my audience that night averaged 50 years old, and her young-love, angst-heavy set of tunes may not be the de rigeur menu for this crowd, but watching them get her absolute mastery of songcraft, her flawless singing, and her disbelievveabblebly (yeah, I made that up) playing had people actually hooting - hooting I tell you - at the end of her set. I'm so honored to coach her a little bit now. She won't be in the auspices of this folk scene for long. She's winning scholarships to schools and song contests all over. Hell, I hope she remembers my old, toothless ass when I need a gig in the future. Think Bonnie Raitt re-discovering Sippie Wallace?
Then there was the 4 hour drive home. A little Einstein, a little Tuxedo, with some Richard Thompson thrown in. But yeah, feeling pretty secure that acoustic music is in good hands. And I'm doing some little part to pay it forward.
8 hours later I'm flying into Chicago to open for Tuck and Patti at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston, IL.  Now this will be a mix of the old and the new. Old is that I toured with Tuck and Patti in the early 90's. I used to refer to myself as the "and", or as their son…They were so kind to me then, dragging me everywhere they were playing. New is S.P.A.C.E., a place I've desperately wanted to play, but somehow I couldn't get hired. It was a whimsical e-mail back and forth with Patti where I mentioned how fun it'd be to open their show there cause "hell, the airline ticket would be cheap and I'd get to see you after 20-odd years..". I wasn't certain what the management thought of what I do, but hell, I have students of mine headlining there.. So here's my two-bird stone opportunity.
The club is gorgeous, the green room and dressing room are the best ever in the history of me doing music, everyone there is utterly wonderful to me. Yes, it's important. I'm in the business of getting people to like me.

Talking with T&P was like we had been in touch but a week before, when in actually I hadn't seen them in 23 years. Patti laid me out for being such a worrier on Facebook and also described their more recent paradigm of self-management and promotion, which so very mirrored mine. That made me feel better, knowing I wasn't alone in the trials and tribulations of time management, old and new audience, and just friggin staying relevant. 
I had a brussels sprout and kale salad to die for. And I proceeded to put on one of the best sets of my life:
Goodbye Pluto
God Bless Everyone
Boy On A Train (?)
Pie and Whiskey
Unfamiliar Moon
My Bad (with Aaron Neville story intro) 
Old White Men
For The Good Times
I noticed that as I left the stage I was staring directly into faces that were maybe a little awestruck, definitely happy.  I realized I was staring directly into most of these faces because 2/3rds of the room was on their feet. 
So I'm signing CDs and such, up walks Ellis Paul and Radoslav Lorkovic. They'd missed my show, but were gonna stay to see T&P. Yay! Buds. 
Tuck and Patti. The Civil Wars. Hall & Oates. Simon and Garfunkel. Trout Fishing In America. Seals & Crofts. Jackie and Roy. The Story. Yeah, this would be a fine way to describe the beginning of a list of some of the greatest duos of all time. And Tuck….well "one of the greatest, most innovative guitarists ever" has gotten bandied about quite a bit in th last three decades. But when he took the mic from Patti during the set and proclaimed my set "perfect" and a "musical inspiration to him", I just kinda lost it. Just ask Henry and Jenny, father and daughter friends that drove to see me 2 1/2 hours from Oshkosh.
Then Patti told the sweetest story form the stage. I paraphrase:

"So Vance is the reason I could only stay in my high heels for two songs. I have an allotted "high heel time", and I have them on just minutes before I hit the stage. But I have been in the back of this room for the last 40 minutes in these things because I just couldn't stop listening to his set. And these heels are over 3 inches high, so I guess I'm one of those women you just can't trust…."
….Patti is quoting the middle of my song Old White Men in the middle end of her set. Good God.
I sell more CDs than any opener there ever. The house tips me an extra $50 on my payment. Win. Win. Win.  I think I'll be back.
The next early afternoon I head to my gate at Chicago Midway to fly home, and I hear over my shoulder "Well, we could just get more coffee or just go hang with Vance Gilbert at whatever gate he's heading out of." There stands Natalia Zuckerman, Trina Hamlin, and Susan Werner, just coming home from a band road trip through Nebraska. More beautiful, talented, road warriors you'll never know. And good friends all. 
So, I'm stuffing envelopes with the new CD and a smile today. For those that worry about why i worry, know this - I'm most at peace when I'm working steady, in front of reasonable sized crowds, moving some hearts and minds, paying just a little off this mortgage, coming home to songs, partner, model airplane time... I get to see friends, get audited, drive, check bags, sing, play, and have just enough money left over to send to somewhere like Nepal, where peoples worries are far greater than yours or mine will ever be. 
Then I'm happy... xo vg


May 2015

Sunday, May 3rd 7:30pm
Club Passim
Club Passim
Cambridge MA
Call 617-492-5300 for more details

Sunday, May 3rd 5:00pm
Club Passim
Club Passim
Cambridge MA
Call 617-492-5300 for more details

June 2015

Friday, June 5th 8:00pm
The Cellar Stage at Faith Community United Methodist
The Cellar Stage at Faith Community United Methodist
Baltimore MD
Call 443-540-0226 for more details

Saturday, June 13th 8:00pm
The Bennington Center for the Arts
The Bennington Center for the Arts
Bennington   VT
Call 802-442-7158   for more details

July 2015

Saturday, July 4th TBA
New Bedford Folk Festival
New Bedford Folk Festival
New Bedford MA
Call 508-673-8523 for more details

more events