Saturday, February 5, 2011

Any Woman's Blues #1 - Sue Foley

Greetings, folks!  The music continues here on Robert Frost’s Banjo with a brand new series for your listening pleasure. 

When we speak about women & the blues, we tend to think of the great vocalists first.  After all, the first blues recording stars were women like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith & Ida Cox—it wasn’t until Blind Lemon Jefferson hit the scene that a man achieved similar stardom.  But when we think about blues guitarists—& let’s face it, the guitar is the instrument probably most associated with blues (with apologies to piano players, who could make an argument for the 88s)—women tend to get short shrift.  If you asked the average blues fan to come up with a list of great guitar players you’d probably see names like Robert Johnson, BB King, Lightnin’ Hopkins & Eric Clapton; if the fan was a devotee of old-time blues you’d probably see the likes of Charlie Patton, Son House & Blind Willie McTell on the list.

But the fact is there are lots of extraordinarily talented blues guitar players who also happen to be women.  I’ve often said that I might never have gotten into the blues as a performer were it not for the great Rory Block.  Seeing her perform this spring in Montana was a real highlight of 2010, & I can say that both her playing & singing live were every bit as good as expected.

So we’re going to devote our Saturdays for the foreseeable future to featuring some of these great blueswomen.  Now, you’d think given my high regard for Rory Block, she should be the lead-off feature.  I certainly considered that—& have no fear, she will be featured!—but since I’ve written about Ms Block in the past, I decided I’d start with an artist who hasn’t appeared on this blog before.

& we have a terrific guitar player to get the series underway.  Sue Foley hails from Ottawa, Canada.  She came to music early, & was already performing & composing by her teens.  She left home at age 18 & wound up in Austin, Texas by way of Vancouver & California.  In 1992, still in her early 20s, she released her first album, Young Girl Blues on the Antone label (now on the Discovery label), & has followed this with eleven more albums, most recently He Said, She Said in collaboration with Peter Karp. 

Ms Foley won the Juno Award in 2000 for best blues album for Love Comin’ Down; she’s also a 14 time winner of the Maple Blues Award & a three time winner of the Trophee de Blues de France.  But let’s face it: the proof is in the hearing, & I guarantee Ms Foley won’t disappoint on either of today’s tunes.  I’ve got to say: listening to Sue Foley reminds me why I occasionally have a yen for a Fender Telecaster—listen how she makes her Tele sing!


  1. Great music to start my day off with! That first tune was very reminiscent of early Santana.

    My favorite Telecaster blues player is the late, great Albert Collins, the Master of the Telecaster; he made that hot-rodded Tele of his do things that Leo Fender probably never imagined.

    If you're looking for other women blues artists to feature, check out Lauren Ellis; she's a mean slide blues player!

  2. Hi Roy: The Telecaster is a great electric guitar, no question, & versatile too. Good call on Lauren Ellis. After seeing your comment I looked her up on YouTube. Will definitely feature her at some point. Glad you enjoyed this!

  3. Blues does often get associated with men. It's good to see this woman taking a crack at it. And what a crack she takes.

  4. Hi Caroline: Well put! Glad you liked it. There'll be lots more great guitar in this series!

  5. Great post, and fantastic music! I think I just found my next music purchase!!!

  6. Hi KM: Thanks--so glad you liked it & enjoy the music!


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