Sometimes there's nothing sadder than the twang of a lap slide guitar, and when it's played right, sometimes there's nothing better. Lucky for us, Dylan-Thomas Vance, one of the best, is coming to town.
We usually get our blues from way down south, so Montana-born, Portland-based Vance may seem somewhat of an anomaly. The obvious Western influence on and in his music adds layers of country sounds that are not often found in true blues music, but that are very appealing in Vance's.
Vance's 2001 Cowboy Soul and Country Blues is a collection of songs that showcase his ability to take classic blues sounds and update and uplift them. "Old Man Devil" became a radio hit and it was that music that sent Vance on the road to the The Blues Foundation's 2003 International Blues Challenge.
In 2003, Vance's Bittersweet featured his ability to write heart-wrenching, original songs that are contemporary and timeless. "George and Sarah" is a bittersweet love story told over a simple, sweet melody. Vance's high-voiced "oohs" at the end of some of the verses are so plaintive they'll give you goose bumps.
In 2005, Vance and Griff Bear recorded Live at Biddy McGraw's. Bear's violin is the perfect complement to Vance's guitar and while some songs on the CD have a bluegrass flavor, the underlying melancholy and joy of blues is always present.
This show, which includes Bear and drummer Jason Stewart is going to be a special one. Ha'Penny is an intimate setting perfect for seeing and hearing some modern blues music masters.
Friday, December 16, 9 p.m., $5, Ha'Penny Bridge, 855 Broad St., 343-5568