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. They say some things are meant to be, and surely it was this connection with Antone and Austin that set the stage for much of the blues woman’s life.
At the heart of it all has always been the guitar, though. It’s the sound of Sue Foley’s soul that comes out of the six strings, and it’s no accident that her new album Pinky's Blues, is named after her pink paisley Fender Telecaster electric guitar that has been such a major part of Foley’s life for all these years.
Everything about the musician’s new album seems to point its wondrous aim at destiny. Sue Foley and producer Mike Flanigin 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 and we needed another challenge to keep us busy,” Foley says. “And because we’d been hanging out together, we were comfortable in each other’s presence, and this would be a very low-key closed session. I brought in Jon Penner to play bass. He was my first bass player and had been on all my early Antone’s records. So just the four of us along with engineer Chris Bell went into the studio and recorded the entire album in three days. What you’re hearing is live, off the floor, in the moment the music was played totally spontaneously and, mainly, improvised.”
Being that spontaneous, Sue Foley still had an overall idea for how she wanted the music to be. “We just wanted to make something representative of the Texas blues that we had been schooled on in Austin. So, we picked great songs and I wrote a few of my own to round things out. Everything on it is a labor of love.”
That open-flow feel of the great empty spaces of Texas that blows through many of the songs, no matter whether they’re previous classics like Lavelle White’s “Stop These Teardrops,” Frankie Lee Sims’ “Boogie Real Low” or Jimmy Donley’s “Think It Over” or newer songs like Angela Strehli’s “Two Bit Texas Town” and Foley’s own “Dallas Man.” There is a strong vibrating hum of Lone Star music that runs wild and free through the whole album, like there is some kind of spiritual wholeness of the music of Texas which binds it all together.