Vance Gilbert

OFF-THE-CUFF, FOR A CAUSE

STORY BY: JEFFREY STITES

Vance Gilbert’s upcoming visit to Brunswick County is in support of his just-released album of sublime jazz standards, but don’t think that that alone tells you who he is or what to expect. The man has opened for George Carlin as well. Gilbert is a coffee house folk act rooted in a love of jazz with the witty banter of a stand-up comic. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram describes him as possessing “the voice of an angel, the wit of a devil and the guitar playing of a god.”

Vance Gilbert will appear as the second in Listen Up Brunswick County’s 2016 concert line-up on Saturday, February 20 at 7:00 pm at in the Virginia Williamson Events Center at Brunswick Community College’s Odell Williamson Auditorium. Listen Up director Jeannie Dufour says you never know what you’ll see when Gilbert shows up. “He may be sporting dread- locks, an Afro, a shaved head or the prim and proper look. Each show is full of off- the-cuff Vance-isms,” she said.

Dufour says she and Listen Up have a long history with Gilbert. “Vance got us started with our live, small, intimate, singer-song- writers in concert. He was our first experience when our little library back in Connecticut starting their concert series in 2006. We have been hooked ever since,” she said.

As a teacher in Boston in the early 1990s, Gilbert began playing open mike nights at local coffee houses. His reputation spread and he was asked to open for folk artist Shawn Colvin on his national tour. Since then, Gilbert has released eight albums, including his most recent set of jazz stan- dards, “Nearness Of You.”

Researching this article, I found the advantages to living in the age of YouTube. While listening to bits of Gilbert’s music makes it clear this is an artist who is a wonderful musician with an impressive command of both his guitar and his own tenor voice, that only demonstrates a piece of his appeal. Videos of Gilbert’s live shows tell the rest of the story. He interacts with his audiences like a stand-up comic in a small venue. The introductions to his songs can be as long, and just as entertaining, as the songs themselves. I’m not sure Gilbert’s style would hold up in an arena, but his act is custom made for a room like the Virginia Williamson Events Center.

This will be Listen Up Brunswick County’s second show in the Events Center. The first, a sell-out performance by The Kennedy’s in January, was a huge success according to Dufour. “The venue was great. Mike (Sapp, manager of Odell Williamson Auditorium) and staff have everything under control; they are a well-oiled ma- chine. Mike is certainly helping Listen Up Brunswick County grow, “ she said. “We received a lot of positive feedback about the room and look forward to our next three concerts there. The sound was per- fect. Mike is so willing to do whatever he can to make our shows a success.”

That success is aimed at helping the community. All profits from Listen Up Brunswick County shows are donated back to a local charity. This year, the beneficiary of Listen Up’s shows is the New Hope Clinic, a provider of a wide range of medical services to Brunswick County’s un- and under-insured population.

“We have to wait until the end of the season to determine our donation to New Hope. Fingers crossed, our remaining shows will be as successful as the Kennedys, which will enable us to make a generous donation,” said Dufour.

Tickets for Vance Gilbert are $20 and available at the door and online at www.listenupbrunswickcounty.com. All Listen Up Brunswick County shows are all ages affairs.

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