Sue Foley by Available Light Photography

Jimmy’s Jazz and Blues Club, Portsmouth, NH – Thursday June 16, 2022 By Kathy Hicks

I was greeted by an impeccably dressed concierge outside the double glass doors of Jimmy’s Jazz and Blues Club.  He asked if I was with the band, because I had brought one of my acoustic guitars with me for Sue Foley to sign.  I grinned and told him that I was with the press, and he directed me through the beautiful lobby, and up the stairs to the box office.  The helpful attendant accepted my guitar to hold until after the show, and called up a hostess to escort me to my seat.  We ascended another flight of stairs – I know what some of you are thinking, don’t worry; there’s an elevator! – and entered the main stage seating area.  I was brought through and seated to the right, where there were two viewing lounges, each with an extra-large flatscreen television, couches and comfy chairs, set aside a central bar.  To the left off the main seating area, is an atrium style lounge, complete with a beautiful long bar, all the lounges showing the performance in the main room on a live feed.  

Jimmy’s is set in a beautifully restored brick and beam historic building in downtown Portsmouth.  The sound and acoustics are state of the art, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  The interior design gives a nod to the classic jazz clubs of the 1950’s while giving touches of modern industrial décor.  The side lounges allow the attendees to mingle and get a cocktail, while still enjoying the performance.  Each of the staff I encountered were very professional and extremely helpful, most especially Edison, who has been there since Jimmy’s opened in 2021.  He was able to direct me to some helpful locations to photograph from and not be obtrusive in such an intimate club.

Sue opened the show with a blistering version of ‘Pinky’s Blues’, the title track of her latest album, after which she introduced…her guitars.  “This is Pinky Two,” she said, then gestured to the ‘seemingly’ exact same hot pink paisley Telecaster on the guitar stand behind her. “That’s Pinky Three.”  Then she paused and looked around at the crowd.  “Go ahead,” she prompted, laughing, “ask me where Pinky One is.”  The crowd laughed and complied, and she said, “She’s at home, resting.  She told me she’s all done with flying.” She went on to explain that Pinky Two was given to her by Jimmie Vaughan, and Pinky Three was given to her by Billy F Gibbons.  Pretty special.  She did introduce the members of her band, the extremely talented (and very nice) Jon Penner on bass and Corey Keller on drums.

She played to a practically sold out, and extremely enthusiastic crowd – including this author, of course.  As she is out promoting her latest album, ‘Pinky’s Blues’, she performed a good portion of the record including the tracks ‘Dallas Man’, ‘Boogie Real Low’, and ‘Okie Dokie Stomp’ – a cover of the Clarence Gatemouth Brown song.  Growing up, she looked up to her dad and two older brothers who played guitar.  But one day she pulled out an album of a woman holding a guitar, who had a gold tooth.  Memphis Minnie.  And just like that she had a female role model for playing the guitar.  Every show she plays at least one Minnie song to honor her.  This show she played a couple, ‘Me and My Chauffer Blues’, and ‘In My Girlish Days’.   She also played the title track of her last album, one of my favorites, ‘The Ice Queen’.

After the show, she had a meet and greet with the audience, for photos and signing merchandise.  I asked her to sign my guitar, we took a photo together and I confirmed my telephone interview with her the next day, letting her move on to the next fan.

 Sue called me at 10:30 Friday morning and we chatted for about 15 minutes.  She was traveling from Portsmouth to Albany for her next show, and unfortunately our connection was a little spotty.  We talked about her current tour – she has just come back from Europe.  I asked her if this was her first time over there, or if she had been before.  She said that she’s been going over there for about 25 years or so and has a great following there.  

We chatted about her recent Blues Music Award wins, and about her Canadian Music Award and Juno wins.  I asked her how she personally felt about getting the recognition.  In speaking with other artists, some are appreciative, some are indifferent, and some, while appreciative want the recognition passed on to someone new who deserves it.  She thinks that in most cases its pretty fair, especially with the BMA’s because it’s member based voting.  She thinks its good for your profile, but it’s definitely not why you do it for sure.

Finally, I asked what her impressions on Portsmouth were, and of Jimmy’s, and if she plans to come back in the future and maybe explore other areas of New Hampshire.  She said that they got “awesome treatment” from Jimmy’s, and as to them coming back, she said, “Absolutely!  We’re having a blast and we will definitely be back!”  

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