Blues Bytes

Pick Hit

November 2023

Sue Foley
Live In Austin, Vol. 1
Stony Plain / Guitar Woman Records

Sue Foley

There have been a plethora of live albums released in the past year, each capturing the energy and emotion of the artist's in-concert appearances. One of the best is undoubtedly Live In Austin, Vol. 1, by Texas guitarist / singer Sue Foley. Performing at the legendary Continental Club, the native Canadian is at her best and the sound quality is quite good.

She's got a killer backing band providing tasty accompaniment: Jon Penner (bass), Corey Keller (drums), Derek O'Brien (guitar), and Angela Miller and Lauren Cervantes (background vocals).

Two singles were released prior to the album coming out in late October, with "New Used Car" having been the name of Foley's 2006 album. It's a rollicking double-entendre blues rocker with Foley seductively equating her body to the cars on the road. The second single is a great version of Howlin' Wolf's "Howlin For My Darlin'," with Foley doing her own feral Wolf cries.

It took me a few listens to figure out why Foley's own country-ish rocker "Highwayside" sounded familiar until I connected it to Townes Van Zandt's version of "Dead Flowers." Maybe it's a stretch, but that's how it came across to me. "Walkin' Home" is a similar up-tempo mover that both rocks and rolls.

We also hear covers of a pair of long-ago blues classics, Slim Harpo's "Queen Bee," with great vocals from Foley and strong staccato guitar licks, and the iconic Memphis Minnie tune, "Me And My Chauffeur." She must have been channeling her inner Minnie with stronger and more spirited vocals.

One of the more intriguing numbers here is Foley's cover of Bob Dylan's "Positively 4th Street." Close your eyes while you groove to this one. Very enjoyable, and her voice shows more range on the mid-tempo shuffle "Better," one of my favorite cuts here.

There's one instrumental number, the intense and spooky "Hooked On Love (aka Lucky Lou)," written and done originally by one-time Chicago guitar master Jody Williams, who began his career with Bo Diddley. Not surprisingly, it's got a strong Diddley vibe.

Going in a different direction is a cover of Cheap Trick's "High Roller," but it fits here and the crowd digs it. It's a nice ending to a very strong live album.

This collection is proclaimed as Vol.1, but there's no mention of more to come. Have we heard just the first set of her live show? Perhaps, but there's no mention of an upcoming Vol. 2 in either the liner notes or press release, although she closes the album with the stage announcement "we're going to take a little pause for the cause." I guess we'll just have to wait and see if we get more of this special evening at the Continental Club.

In the meantime, we'll all keep jamming to Live in Austin, Vol. 1.

--- Bill Mitchell


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