"If you're writing something that you're not sure you're gonna use, put it up on blocks in the yard and strip it for parts later…You've got all the pieces there, make this other car run, or take the cap and the steering wheel and make a whole new car."
During the last 20 years Vance Gilbert has toured all over North America as a singer-songwriter and comedian. In addition to delighting audiences as a headline performer, his supporting roles include opening for Shawn Colvin and the legendary comedian, George Carlin. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Vance has “the voice of an angel, the wit of a devil, and the guitar playing of a god.”
We sat down with him with a live audience at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, Oklahoma.
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1: What artist would you most love to work with?
Do they have to be alive? OK. I'll do alive. I guess currently I'd have to say Stevie Wonder. And Jason Isbell. Not together necessarily. But that'd be cool too!!
2: What instrument brings you the most joy?
Bouzouki. Bouzouki is an old Anatolian word that means "cute little summer squash-shaped guitar that you can hump". Look it up. I learned that on the web.
3: What was the worst advice?
Early in my career I got signed to a world- known booking agency. At lunch with a principal of that agency, his greatest advice to me (I actually solicited it) was "Wear a collared shirt on stage". I've done that most nights. Maybe that's why I'm big in the music business like a barnacle is big in shipping...
4: What was your first concert?
Triple bill of Kool and the Gang, Average White Band, and Wild Cherry live at the Centrum, Phila.
5: What/where is the best road food?
Any Chinese Buffet.
6: What’s the best music advice you ever got?
"Wear a collared shirt on stage".
7: Who is your most surprising inspiration?
Roger Federer. Problem solver, comeback from injury, drive to do well when he could rest on laurels forever, artistry, willingness to improvise, head-hand-body-surroundings coordination brilliance, simultaneous confidence/humility . He could be Miles Davis, Richard Thompson, George Carlin, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jordan, Mother Teresa and Bach all rolled into one. He just happens to do it with a racquet.