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Foy Vance On Mountain Stage

Foy Vance performs live for <em>Mountain Stage</em> in Charleston, W.Va.
Brian Blauser
Mountain Stage
Foy Vance performs live for Mountain Stage in Charleston, W.Va.

Over the years, Mountain Stage host and artistic director Larry Groce has reeled in more than 3,000 artists from some 50 countries. Groce loves nothing better than cosmo-cross-pollinating the roots music scene by introducing the radio audience to a soaring new artist about to sing their way above blurred border lines of genre and country.

It was in 2016 when one such artist, Northern Irish multi-instrumentalist Foy Vance, made his first appearance on Mountain Stage. Vance played songs off of The Wild Swan, an album executive produced by Sir Elton John and put out by Gingerbread Man Records, the label of British pop star Ed Sheeran, who has seen Vance in concert more than 40 times.

At this show recorded live at the Clay Center in Charleston, W.Va., Groce introduced Vance by saying "[The Wild Swan was] the best recording I've heard in many years." Straightaway, Vance poured out his brilliant blend of down-home humor (a fresh story about his Picasso-esque moustache) then launched into a healthy shot of his top-shelf songwriting, soaked in the tones of piano, guitar and his rich, peaty vocals that have brought comparisons to Bono and fellow Northern Ireland native Van Morrison.

Vance, who now splits time between the Scottish Highlands and London, transported the audience to his home in the set opener, "Bangor Town," before turning the vocal heat up even further for "Burden," a sizzling gospel song that Keith Urban found and recorded in 2019.

Then, the singer-songwriter, who started the set by saying how much he felt at home in the Mountain State, proved it in a unique closing song. He soulfully and creatively sewed together the distance between Celtic-settled shores with a frisky mash-up of "Take Me Home, Country Roads," (John Denver's famous, unofficial West Virginia anthem) and Vance's sunny blue-eyed soul original "Upbeat Feelgood."

This performance originally aired on Nov. 16, 2016.

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Dave Lavender