Cap Folk & Roots Series
Ruthie Foster

Date and Venue 3 & 4 November 2010 @ 8pm | Capilano Performing Arts Theatre, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver

Reviewer John Jane

It may be that Ruthie Foster is as popular in south-western British Columbia as she is in the native Texas. On her previous visits here she has always been well received and her live performances have typically been well-attended. She is no longer with Atlantic Records, preferring to take a road less travelled than the more commercial avenue mandated by her former record company.

Dressed in black and sporting her trademark dreadlocks Ruthie Foster stepped onto the stage joined by percussionist Samantha Banks, bassist Tanya Richardson and piano player Scottie Miller; musicians that she referred to as her “family band.”

Ms Foster and her band kicked off an eclectic selection of soul, original R & B, folk and blues with the inspirational Up Above My Head (I Hear Music in the Air) treated with as much gospel fervor as Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s original. Next, I Really Love You a tune that was given an evocative reggae back-beat arrangement.

One of my favourite songs from the singer’s repertoire is Another Rain Song, apparently inspired by her mother’s fondness of the music of Sam Cooke. Foster not only wrote the song in deference to the soul pioneer’s influence, but also sang it in his unique style.

The singer outlined her flexibility with Smalltown Blues from her Runaway Soul CD. The classic rock ‘n roll arrangement featured Scottie Miller on mandolin. But the song that drew the most appreciation from a largely female audience and even earned her a standing ovation was Phenomenal Woman, adapted from Maya Angelou’s poem with music composed by Canadian singer-songwriter Amy Sky.

Ms Foster (pleasantly) surprised everyone by calling up much-travelled musician Eric Bibb from the audience to join her on stage for the concert’s final song Thanks for the Joy – the New York native’s up-tempo contribution to her latest recording, The Truth According to Ruthie Foster. Eric Bibb returned to the stage with Foster and her band to help out with the anthemic encore offering, All Over This Land.

© 2010 John Jane