Sue Foley's In-Store: Hotter Than Texas In July

Blues guitarist/songwriter and singer shows why her star's on the rise in Austin appearance.

AUSTIN, Texas — It was 102 degrees in the shade

Saturday afternoon, and inside the Tower Records on

Guadalupe Street things were hot as well, fueled by the

fluid guitar lines of rising blues star

COLOR="#003163">Sue Foley.

Before appearing later that night at a celebration

honoring the 25th anniversary of the seminal Austin blues

club Antone's (also home of the record label that

launched her national presence), Foley was celebrating the

recent release of her sixth CD, Love Comin'

Down (Shanachie, 2000).

The disc, hailed as a career-maker for the Canadian-born

artist, was produced by Colin

Linden and features nine Foley originals.

Playing to an initial crowd of about 35 (which grew

rapidly as her set progressed) Foley opened with the

blues-and-love traveler's tale "Two Trains" (

HREF="http://www.musicdirect.com/scripts/hurlPNM.exe?/999999999//~hhh-484908/0254665_0101_00_0002.ra">RealAudio

excerpt).

Clearly a woman in command of her instrument, the

petite Foley, dressed casually in a black tank top and

blue slacks, sent notes from her pink-and-gold

paisley-patterned electric guitar sliding and bending throughout

the store and down the sun-baked street outside,

framing her rough-edged soprano with style.

Backed by a three-piece band of drums, keyboard and

bass, she quickly made listeners — ranging in age from

the elementary-school set to the white-haired — forget

about the chrome-and-metal ambience of a modern record

store, drawing them deeper into the blues with a

sizzling cover of the Willie

Dixon tune "Same Thing," which is also on

Love Comin' Down.

Foley was first attracted to the bluesy side of the

Rolling Stones'

music as a teenager and decided to learn the blues herself

when she heard harmonica player

COLOR="#003163">James Cotton, a longtime

COLOR="#003163">Muddy Waters sideman.

She's learned the lessons well, recently winning

Female Vocalist of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards in

Canada and attracting notice as a rising talent from

Downbeat magazine.

Folk Grammy winner Lucinda

Williams sat in on Foley's latest disc, which

also includes another tune she showcased, a

barrelhouse blues about a woman with a mind of her own called

"You're Barkin' Up the Wrong Tree" (

HREF="http://www.musicdirect.com/scripts/hurlPNM.exe?/999999999//~hhh-484908/0254665_0104_00_0002.ra">RealAudio

excerpt).

Dennis Elinsky, who works at Tower, said

in-store appearances such as Foley's give the customers

something different to look forward to, "and I'm really

enjoying this, because I love Sue's music. She's

great."

Store patrons seemed to agree, as even those browsing

in the classical and jazz sections upstairs came down

to see where the music was coming from and stayed to

listen as Foley hit a laid-back, jazz-flavored blues

song, "Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin')," and took it

into an extended jam with her band.

As the hot notes floated down the hot street,

passers-by looked in and came to stay, filling up the aisle of

the store, tapping their feet and nodding their heads

in time with the guitar-driven rhythm.

Drawing her showcase to a close, Foley took on "Let Me

Drive," another vignette of feisty independence backed

by sweetness. She then mingled with her fans,

answering questions and signing autographs, before heading off

to prepare for her evening set at Antone's.

Occasionally sounding like a more mellow-voiced

Janis Joplin or a

darker-edged Bonnie

Raitt, in this brief, five-song set Foley showed a style

and voice distinctly her own and proved herself an

electrifying, substantial guitar player.