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BLUES PLAYER

"I’m basically a traditional artist but I am trying to keep the art form of blues relevant." - Sue Foley

Posted: December 15, 2023
Moot Point - A moot point is a point, an aspect, or a topic that is no longer relevant or can no longer be questioned or debated.

Photo provided by: Brat Girl Media

Much of any bio or about page is a relevant introduction into the world of an artist or entertainer. The quips and witty remarks can be used to define many different entities. Some are “on point” and some are just marketing ploys designed to make one look appealing.

Some brands, like Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, PRS, and Dean Zelinsky have created their own introduction by their creativity and reputation. These are notable names in the guitar industry alone. Think of the vast sea of branding for other companies, organizations, and events that are quite notable. No bio or about page is necessary. Introductions are really a moot point. Never will you see any suggestions that will embolden their brands without having solid proof of success and demand.

Sue Foley is a blues artist that needs no introduction. In fact, you won’t even see anything on her website that provides that long list of achievements and accolades. When you hear Sue Foley perform, you know you are in the company of something remarkable. An unforgettable experience. A creation or a marvel. Sue Foley has made a definitive mark on the music industry. Her name has been etched in blues music history.

For those, that do not know her, I will review just a couple of points that have stood out to those that know her.

ABOUT SUE FOLEY

Sue Foley has been playing guitar since she was 13 years old. Like so many other musicians, it was the music of the early Rolling Stones that inducted her into the world of the blues. As she started working with other bands, she made her way to the Mark Hummel group and began touring Canada and northern America. When Austin blues nightclub and label owner, Clifford Antone saw her at the annual Blues Music Awards in Memphis, he knew he’d met an all-timer. Before long, Foley was living in Austin and, in 1992, recorded her debut album YOUNG GIRL BLUES.

Her album PINKY’S BLUES is a moniker after her pink paisley Fender Telecaster electric guitar that has been such a major part of Foley’s life for the life of her musical career.

Sue Foley and producer Mike Flanigan decided to make the album in the middle of the COVID lockdown in 2020. “Mike, drummer Chris Layton and I had just finished making Mike’s album WEST TEXAS BLUES.

As life turned inward throughout 2020 and now into 2021, everyone has had to learn new ways to live and relate to not only others, but to the whole outside world. In some ways, many days feel like we’re all back in school again, feeling our way through the new fundamentals of living. Sue Foley’s life has been an exploration of the blues and so much more. Leaving Canada as a young player, she knew she had to go where the music thrived. All her years in Austin and including those when she left to learn new approaches to life, have all come together on PINKY’S BLUES. “The fact that I have ended up back in Austin just seems right,” Foley says. My home is Canada and I identify as a Canadian.



But I had a yearning for this music, and I can’t even put my finger on why or how. It got in my soul when I was a teenager. I guess I was open, and I got imprinted by the sound and the force of blues music. I saw my first blues show at 15 and I swear I’ve never been the same. I was lucky because I was able to play with so many legends before they passed away. e, a sense of humor, and a love for what you’re doing, you have much more to give. This is when it all really happens.”

INTERVIEW WITH SUE FOLEY AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

Guitar Thrills: Hello Sue. It has been quite some time since we had an opportunity to chat. Thank you for joining us today.

Sue: My pleasure.

Guitar Thrills: Normally my interviews are topic based. In a way there is a topic to this interview. However, the focus is on you. It is our favorite part about an interview. Not having to spend much time thinking about who the artist is, or what they have achieved as an artist. You have a plethora of accomplishments. For instance, you are the winner of the Blues Foundation Music Award for 2023. Undoubtedly there must be much buzz around them selecting you. What was your response when you were notified?

Sue: I was elated when I got notified that I won a Blues Music Award. I have won other awards during my career but for some reason being acknowledged in Memphis at the Blues Music Awards is sort of like being acknowledged on the world stage. So, from that perspective it meant a lot to me.

Guitar Thrills: I know the blues industry, and the competition that is out there. This is something that should be held dear to you. Do you think that there was anyone that is as talented as you? There is a time to be humble, but this is the time to be proud. 😊

Sue: I think there’s a lot of people who are as talented as me, many that are more talented, it’s really hard to qualify that because so much of this is just personal assumptions and opinions. Let’s just say I really like what I do and I play the way I wanna play.

Guitar Thrills: I have never received one of their awards. Can you identify some of the criteria they consider before they communicate the winner of the award?

Sue: The Blues Music Awards are voted on by the public, by the fans. So, it’s really just the people who are out there buying blues music and going to shows who vote. From that perspective it seems fair.

Guitar Thrills: What sorts of things did they mention as to why you were the award winner?

Sue: No one told me why I won any of my awards. I assume that it’s just that what I’m doing at this time is something that resonates with blues audiences.

Guitar Thrills: Is the award a reflection of how much you have accomplished as a blues artist?

Sue: That’s up to opinion. What I have accomplished in my own opinion is what really matters to me. I’m always working on new stuff and trying to move forward. I’m basically a traditional artist but I am trying to keep the art form of blues relevant and alive by adding my own personal story to my work, and by having my own spin on it.

Guitar Thrills: There are artists that are known for multiple awards. Is this something you contribute to your success?

Sue: Awards are like icing. I’m here for the cake. I like to focus on the work. The work is the cake.

Guitar Thrills: You have many accolades to show that you have been recognized as talented artist. At what point in your career, will you feel that satisfied with all that you accomplished?



Sue: Like the great Muddy Waters said,” I can’t be satisfied.” I wanna keep moving forward and making better music every year, going deeper in my heart, being a better guitar player, and a better writer. You never get there.

Guitar Thrills: One of the contributions to your success is your Fender Tele. What sound are you looking for that only your Telecaster can provide?

Sue: The Fender Telecaster is a basic guitar. There’s not a lot of bells and whistles on it. It’s just a block of wood with a couple of pick-ups and two knobs. I love the fact that you have to dig deep and be creative to get new tones out of a guitar like that. I don’t use a flat pick, I use a thumb pick and my fingers, and I think that gives me an individual tone. I think my right- hand technique has really evolved my playing and helped me gain my own sound and style.

Guitar Thrills: Would you consider another brand at this point in your career?

Sue: I like all kinds of guitars. The Telecaster is just my thing. I love the Telecaster. That being said I also love my Spanish guitar, my nylon string guitar. Those are my two favorites. But, I can play anything with six strings and have a great time.

Guitar Thrills: What are you currently working on, that you would like to let could provide us insight on?

Sue: I am just about to drop another album in March, a solo album where I play all nylon string guitar. It’s a tribute to the pioneering women guitar players and it’s called One Guitar Woman. That’s what’s coming up next for Sue Foley. On the heels of that will be my book based on my interviews with the world’s finest women guitar players.



Guitar Thrills: From I understand you have been a contributing editor for a guitar magazine in the past. Are you currently writing, and what inspired you to write?

Sue: Besides being a player myself, I did a lot of research, and I interviewed so many great female players. That inspired me to become a writer. Then, I went back to school, and I’m almost finished my PhD. There’s a lot of writing involved in that too. I can’t say I love writing, but like somebody said once, “I love having written.” At heart, I’m really a guitar player who writes sometimes.

Guitar Thrills: We hope to talk you into doing some writing for us at some point. I am sure you are quite busy at this point. However, please keep us in the loop, and let us know if what we can do to help promote any upcoming projects. Thank you.

Sue: Thanks so much for the time and for including me in your magazine. Let’s stay in touch for sure.




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