Ruthie Foster – Live At Antone’s

Those who caught Ruthie Foster’s opening set at this year’s B.B. King show at The Civic in Auckland will be happy to see more of the Texas musician playing live with her band. While Mr. King was a disappointment, Ms. Foster clearly made some new fans.

This DVD was recorded at Antone’s in Austin, Texas and it’s obvious from the start that Ruthie feels very much at home there. Along with Samantha Banks (drums) and Tanya Richardson (bass), both of whom played with her in Auckland, Ruthie has guitarist Hadden Sayers and keyboard player Scottie Miller in her band. They both make significant contributions. Sayers is an excellent guitarist, and he sings one of his own tunes with Ruthie mid-way through the set. Miller’s keyboards fill out the sound nicely, especially when he turns to his Hammond organ.

Although Foster is an accomplished songwriter, she only performs three of her own tunes in this 14 song set. She starts out with her own Stone Love, a funky little rabble-rouser, before dipping in to the reggae-tinged (You Keep Me) Hangin’ On (not the Supremes song). It’s the one false step of the evening. Otherwise Ruthie’s picks are faultless. She adds a bit of Sam Cooke-style soul to Lucinda Williams’ Fruits Of My Labor, lays down a fine version of Austin-based Patty Griffin’s When It Don’t Come Easy and really digs in to O.V. Wright’s deep soul chestnut Nickel And A Nail.

Local musician Papa Mali turns up the heat with his slide guitar on Foster’s own Heal Yourself. But its Ruthie’s own easy-going charm and powerful voice that carry the show. New Zealand fans may have to wait until next year to see Ruthie play again, but this should keep them happy in the meantime.

Marty Duda

Watch Ruthie Foster and guest Papa Mali perform Heal Yourself