Music Review: Suzie Vinnick - Live At Bluesville

Suzie Vinnick is a Maritime blues favourite, having played here dozens of times over the past decade or so. She's been at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival so often, that some people believe she is a local. The fact is, she's one of the few from Ontario that has become a regular, thanks to the fact we were among the first to cotton on to her talent. The trouble is, lots more have been figuring that out, and Suzie's appearances here are in jeopardy of dwindling. Her last album, Me 'n' Mabel, was a breakthrough disc for her. It won her two Maple Blues Awards, for songwriter and female blues artists. It gained a Juno nomination, a Canadian Folk Music Award for contemporary vocalist, and the CBC Saturday Night Blues 2012 Great Canadian Blues Award. Whew!

Capitalizing on this boost, Vinnick hit the road, rolling through the U.S and Europe. Stopping in Washington, she dropped in the studio of Sirius/XM Radio, to the program B.B.King's Bluesville, a show that played the heck out of Me 'n' Mable. She was invited to record an acoustic session for the show, and it went so well, it's become her latest release. It's an eight song, half-hour show, showcasing Vinnick at her best.

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Armed with Mabel, her trusty guitar, Vinnick did a number of covers, and a couple of her own, showing off those great pipes, and giving a lesson on how to pour emotion into a vocal. Mable has never sounded better, the producer capturing all its riches, without any tricks or effects. It sounds like wood and metal, you get the growling strums, the fingers on the strings, it simply is real and right. Of course, this speaks to the fine guitar player as well.

Highlights include a cover of the Steve Winwood/Blind Faith number, Can't Find My Way Home, in all its sadness, Vinnick giving the weary lyric the perfect delivery. She dips into her long partnership with fellow player Rick Fines for a couple of numbers, one being the fun Calling Out Your Name, with a fine solo in the middle, a chance for Vinnick to show she's got the chops as well as the voice. How'd You Know I Missed You is one the duo wrote together, a crooner number that could have been from the 20's. Vinnick's ability to go sweet and high, and low and tough in the same song is just one of the reasons she makes each song a powerful performance. Every one of the tunes here leaves you with that feeling, that you've just heard a masterful version of the song. A highly-recommended album while we wait for the studio follow-up.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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