LIVE: Sue Foley @ The Linda, 6/17/2022
Sue Foley is a Canadian blues artist who earned her chops at Antone’s in Austin, idolizes the old Mississippi Delta Blues legacies and covers artists as varied as Chicago’s Jr. Wells, Memphis Minnie and Lavelle White who recorded for Duke. Records in Texas.
She’s as precise on guitar as California’s Rod Piazza, a quality not usually associated with a repertoire that includes numbers with titles like Frankie Lee Sims’ “Boogie Real Low” or her own “Hurricane Girl.” but her entry into the blues came from listening to the Rolling Stones at age 13 and she recently hung out with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. So she’s got this devilish attitude of a rocker, but her repertoire is traditional and hard-core, which won her two Blues Foundation Blues Music Awards a month ago for traditional blues album of the year and the female traditional blues artist – Koko Taylor Award, the second of which she also won home in 2020. She played 10 of the 12 tracks on this award-winning album Pinky’s blues Friday night at Linda.
Like Californian Rob Piazza, Sue plays guitar with near-perfect perfection and predictability. I generally find that quality in the blues antithetical to what the genre, in general, does for me, and that is bring out my ya ya. You know, that feeling that you’re in a 4X4 doing 95 on a road with dangerous curves inches from disaster. Sue respects the speed limits, but she pays homage to the material she covers so nicely that I don’t care. I’ve been listening to it for 30 years, and I’ve never seen or heard it stray from perfection. In Piazza, I find this quality boring. With Sue, I love it.
Bassist Jon Penner was buttoned up for all but the hour and a half of ‘Mediterranean Breakfast’, a Foley original that took audiences to the Spanish Riviera and received the most excited response from a crowd that was obviously delighted to see it live. in Albany for the first time. Backstage Penner recalled playing Saratoga at the Metro with Sue over 30 years ago when she was starting her career and I featured her on my WSPN show in Skidmore.
With her perfectly styled hair, white Rufus Thomas boots and sequined top, she looks like a suburban matron waiting for a night on the town. She plays a pink paisley Fender Telecaster guitar and has a deep respect for “black bluesmen”, but she covered two Memphis Minnie songs “My Girlish Ways” and “Me and My Chauffeur”. In other words, she’s her own person, a perpetually young petite Canadian with an Austin blues bite and an abiding sense of authenticity that makes her originals fit comfortably into a hill blues milieu.