Ruthie Foster: City Winery   29 July 2021

A few years ago, Ruthie Foster played at City Vineyard’s winter series and violaleeblue suggested we attend. I never wrote it up, which is a shame because Mrs Devereaux and I were blown away and she is someone you should see if she is performing in your city. This time rtb and I went to see her at City Winery.

Last time rtb was there she had the ahi tuna sandwich and she liked it, so I tried that. It was much better than the salads or the other disappointing food I have had there. The sandwich has dill yogurt, sundried tomato aoli, frisee, and avocado. On the side is very good Mediterranean salad that should be a main salad. I also ordered the kitchen sink potatoes (garlic shallot confit, garlic Parmesan aioli, smoked paprika, and thyme), which were also very good.

As has happened with the previous shows we have seen in the new space, there was no opening act. At 8pm, Ruthie Foster walked out with a beatific smile and immediately a loving warmth flowed over the audience. She sat because of a stress fracture.  Foster sends out such a positive vibe and good spirit from her soul and heart that you cannot help but feel peaceful and centered in her presence.

Besides being a phenomenal woman and an incredible singer, she is also an amazing guitarist. She showed off Pearl, named for several people – she is a little Janis and a little Pearl Bailey. Foster can play blues, Memphis country, or any other kind of country, folk, gospel, or anything that her heart desires.

She sang Son House’s “Grinnin’ in Your Face” a cappella and her voice filled the room. Foster sings mostly covers but each time you would think that song belongs to her because you cannot imagine anyone else inhabiting that song the way she does. “Ring of Fire” was rearranged into a slow ballad.

Foster introduces each song with a story of the artist or songwriter. But she went straight into “Phenomenal Woman” and when she finished, she asked who was seeing her for the first time. Surprisingly, it was maybe half the audience. So, she explained that the song was a Maya Angelou poem set to music by Amy Sky. Foster was on a stage with Sky and heard the song and now I think everyone associates it with Foster.

At the end she called out for requests and people were yelling a lot of different songs and she blessed us with “Angel From Montgomery.”

Set List

Up Above My Head (Sister Rosetta Tharpe)

It Might Not Be Right (co-written with Willam Bell)

Small Town Blues

Richland Woman Blues (Mississippi John Hurt)

Fruits of My Labor (Lucinda Williams)

Suffer on My Own (blues)

Grinnin’ in Your Face (Mississippi John Hurt)

The Ghetto (Staple Singers)

Phenomenal Woman (Maya Angelou/Amy Sky)

Woke Up This Morning (gospel)

It’s a Brand New Day (gospel)

Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)

Angel From Montgomery (John Prine)

By Carene Lydia Lopez