December 25, 2008


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An acoustic New Year’s
Folk performer Vance Gilbert at Tupelo
By Dana Unger

If ringing in the new year to Iron Maiden cover songs and Britney Spears remixes isn’t up your alley, Tupelo Hall is offering an alternative.

Folk singer and songwriter Vance Gilbert will headline Tupelo’s New Year’s Eve Celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 31, at 7 p.m. The event will also feature a special gourmet buffet and desserts.

In the early ’90s, word started spreading in the folk clubs of Boston about Gilbert, a former multicultural arts teacher and jazz singer who was becoming a hit at open-mike nights. Now, more than 10 years and seven albums later, Gilbert has 1,700 live shows to his credit and has opened for performers like Shawn Colvin and the late comedian George Carlin.

After he graduated from Connecticut College in 1979, Gilbert relocated to the Boston area. While he had been at school, his brother had brought him a bass to play in the dorms, but Gilbert later switched to the acoustic guitar. He started out his musical career in cocktail lounges, performing a diverse catalog of songs, from Gershwin to Top 40, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire. After the lounge work started to dry up, Gilbert began teaching in Boston-area public schools.

The cocktail lounge years paid off, as did the teaching gigs, and Gilbert was inspired to start writing his own material. He has become recognized on the folk festival scene as a songwriter of substance, a label that Gilbert embraces.

In the new millennium, Gilbert self-released Somerville Live, a live recording done at Massachusetts’ historic Somerville Theatre with no retakes or editing in the positioning of the songs. Gilbert followed that album with One Thru Fourteen in 2002, Side of the Road in 2003, a duo album with fellow Boston musician Ellis Paul and 2005’s Unfamiliar Moon. His new record, Up On Rockfield, was released in September and is a twist on the cover album — filled with original music, but with Gilbert channeling the writing styles of other artists like Van Morrison, John Hiatt, Prince, Shawn Colvin, Al Jarreau and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

New Year’s with Vince Gilbert
When: Wednesday, Dec. 31, at 7 p.m.
Where: Tupelo Music Hall, 2 Young Road, Londonderry
Tickets: $80, at 437-5100 or