29 March 1968 (age 51)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Sue Foley - AllMusic Artist Biography by Bill Dahl
This highly touted vocalist/guitarist originally hails from Ottawa, Canada, although her home base shifted to Austin, TX, when she signed with Antone's Records and cut her debut set, Young Girl Blues, in 1992 (an encore, Without a Warning, quickly followed). Foley's wicked lead guitar makes her a rarity among blueswomen.
When she was a child in Ottawa, Foley listened to rock & roll and blues-rock groups like the Rolling Stones. Although these bands sowed the seeds of her affection for the blues, her love for the music didn't blossom until she witnessed James Cotton in concert when she was 15 years old. Cotton inspired Foley to pick up the electric guitar. During her late teens and early twenties, she jammed with local Ottawa bar bands. She didn't form her own group until she moved to Vancouver in the mid-'80s.
Foley sent a demo tape of herself to Antone's Records in 1990. Impressed, the label arranged an audition for the guitarist. Sue moved to Austin and soon signed a recording contract with Antone's. In 1992, her debut album, Young Girl Blues, was released. It was acclaimed by a number of blues publications. Two years later she released her second album, Without a Warning. It was followed by Big City Blues in 1995. Subsequent efforts include 1996's A Walk in the Sun, 1998's Ten Days in November, and 2000's Love Comin' Down and Back to the Blues. Where the Action Is appeared in 2002 on Shanachie Records. Foley then switched to Ruf Records for her next two albums, 2004's Change and 2006's New Used Car. In 2007 Foley released
Deborah Coleman - AllMusic Artist Biography by Richard Skelly
Blues guitarist and singer/songwriter Deborah Coleman – like Ruth Brown and Gary U.S. Bonds, who also hail from the same part of coastal Virginia – brings a certain old-school sense of dignity to all of her live shows. No matter where she is, no matter the size of the audience, she presents the blues with her varying backup bands in a thoroughly dignified, proud way. And well she should, as she's just following in the footsteps, in many ways, of her late great town-mate Ruth Brown, who always exuded confidence and a sense of respect for the stage and her audiences at live shows. Interestingly, in her youth, Coleman was not inspired to sing or play guitar by such heroines of the blues as Brown, but rather, from seeing the old Monkees television show. She was raised in a musical and music-loving family and lived as a Navy kid, in San Diego, San Francisco, Bremerton, Washington, and the Chicago area as a child. She began playing guitar at age eight, and began performing professionally on bass at 15, with a series of Portsmouth, Virginia-area blues and R&B bands. She switched to guitar a short time later after hearing Jimi Hendrix, but also found inspiration in the recordings of Cream and Led Zeppelin.
Coleman's revelatory moment in terms of embracing the idea of playing blues for a living came when she was 21. She saw a concert with Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker on the same bill. She reveals in a biography accompanying one of her Blind Pig releases: "I will never forget that show. It started me on my path to my roots." At 25, she got married and focused on raising her daughter while working day jobs as a nurse and electrician. In 1985, she began working with an all-woman group Moxxie, but when that group split up in 1988, she decided to form her own blues-rock trio. Coleman cites a wide array of inspirations and influences for her guitar playing and singing. For guitar, she credits Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Albert Collins, and Larry Carlton as being inspirational; for singing, she cites Chrissie Hynde (of the Pretenders) and Patti Smith, as well as the recordings of Bessie Smith, Janis Joplin, Memphis Minnie, and Alberta Hunter.
She caught a break in 1993 by entering the National Blues Talent Search of South Carolina's Charleston Blues Festival. Leading her own band, Coleman took first place, and she immediately put together a group entitled the Thrillseekers and continued to tour around the South. She used her contest-winning prize of studio time to secure a deal with New Moon Records of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and her debut, Takin' a Stand, was released in 1995 on New Moon. She followed it up in 1997 with I Can't Lose, her first release for the Blind Pig label. Her other recordings for Blind Pig include Where Blue Begins and Soft Place to Fall in 1998 and 2000. Her fifth album for Blind Pig, Livin' on Love, was released in 2001, and furthered her reputation as one of the top touring blues women on the scene. Soul Be It, recorded live at the Sierra Nevada Brewery, a venue she chose because of its state-of-the-art performance theater, was released in 2002.
Coleman won an Orville Gibson Award for Best Blues Guitarist in 2001, and by that point in time, her career as a touring act in the U.S., Canada, and Europe was well established, as she also had six W.C. Handy Award nominations, with more to come in the following years. Coleman's more 2000s releases include What About Love? in 2004 for the Cleveland-based Telarc label and Stop the Game in 2007 for JSP Records, a London-based label run by impresario John Stedman. Coleman's skilled guitar stylings and vocals can also be heard on Time Bomb, an album for Ruf Records with Sue Foley and Roxanne Potvin.
Roxanne Potvin - Artist Biography by Richard Skelly
Guitarist, vocalist, and singer/songwriter Roxanne Potvin has made a name for herself in a blues-loving country, Canada, but the best is yet to come from this up-and-coming songstress, who has made several cross-country tours with two other guitar-slinging women, Sue Foley and Deborah Coleman. The three later recorded an album together, Time Bomb, for a Germany-based label with U.S. offices, Ruf Records.
Potvin was born in 1982 in Regina, Saskatchewan; she moved to the Ottawa area when she was two. Her father worked as a TV reporter for CBC but also played guitar at home and she was raised in a musical family. Her mother sang and other relatives played other instruments at home-based jam sessions, and rock and jazz music was on the turntable much of the time: music by the Rolling Stones, Billie Holiday, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, and others.
The young Potvin had a revelatory moment after seeing an equally young Jonny Lang on TV, and she became enamored with American blues and blues-rock. From studying Lang, she discovered the music of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and dozens of others, and she took it from there. She got her first guitar as a 15-year-old and, once getting the fundamentals down, she began sitting in on weekly blues jam sessions at Ottawa's Rainbow Club. A short time later, she was asked to play lead guitar at the club for a group whose guitarist hadn't shown up, and she made her first $50. Potvin cites the guitar stylings of Freddie King as a prime guitar influence and cites Dinah Washington for being a vocal inspiration.
Her own self-produced, self-financed debut album, Careless Loving, featuring originals and covers of classic songs by Ruth Brown, Etta James, and Dinah Washington, was released in 2003. Ruf Records released Potvin's second recording, The Way It Feels, in 2006. The album features some stellar accompanists, including John Hiatt, producer Colin Linden, Daniel Lanois, Bruce Cockburn, Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns, and members of the gospel group the Fairfield Four. The Way It Feels was nominated for a Juno Award for Blues Album of the Year in 2006. She followed this up with the aforementioned Time Bomb, her recording with Foley and Coleman, in 2007. Potvin's distinctive vocal stylings can also be heard on Bogart's Bounce and My Kind of Evil, recordings for NorthernBlues Music by guitarist and singer/songwriter JW-Jones. Most recently, she released No Love for the Poisonous in 2008.
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