Photo by: Jamie Hart
“His inner drive is Herculean, his tale-spinning gifts are hypnotic, and he¹s
got more soul than a Muscle Shoals church picnic. Bell¹s vocal instrument is
fairly reeking of the intense effort and passion with which it is charged.
Bell¹s music, while hauntingly beautiful, nevertheless creates an
inescapable tension with his audience; there is an ever-present fear of
falling which makes the listener lean into his songs, to urge them on while
holding one¹s breath . . . . This is truly a magical thing - it is show
business, and it is dangerous.” JIM MUSSER
Vince Bell spent the Seventies working the national coffeehouse circuit,
playing ³edge to edge in the Lone Star state and sharing the stage with
fellow travelers Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Lucinda Williams. The
early Eighties found this native Texan¹s star on a rapid rise. A nimble
guitarist with a one-of-a-kind voice, his songwriting had drawn favorable
comparisons to such disparate-but-remarkable tunesmiths as Randy Newman,
Bruce Cockburn, and Tom Waits. A ballet, Bermuda Triangle, had been set to
his work. And according to Nanci Griffith, who covered Bell¹s Woman of the
Phoenix on her Grammy-winning album Other Voices/Other Rooms: From all of
us who were beating the paths around Texas in the Seventies, I always felt
Vince was the best of us. The night of December 21, 1982, found Bell in the recording studio with hired guns Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson. Driving home from the
session, Bell was broadsided by a drunk driver. Thrown over 60 feet from his
car, Bell suffered multiple lacerations to his liver, embedded glass, broken
ribs, a mangled right forearm and a severe traumatic brain injury.
Awakening from a coma a month later, Bell embarked on a courageous,
decade-long journey to reclaim his identity, his music, and his career. He
has documented the whole terrifying but ultimately uplifting saga with
extraordinary candor and insight in his gripping autobiography, One Man¹s
Music: The Life and Times of Texas Songwriter Vince Bell. (University of
North Texas Press, April 2009)
In 1994, with the aid of producer Bob Neuwirth and a gathering of musical
luminaries and friends, Vince Bell punctuated his second comeback with the
critically-acclaimed album Phoenix. Texas Plates, released in 1999, located
Bell where he should have been all along comfortably ensconced in the upper
echelon of the songwriting guild and signed to a major record label (Warner
Bros.). Live in Texas was released independently in 2001. With 2007 came the
release of the critically-praised Recado, produced by Cam King.
He has just released his 5th CD, One Man's Music: The Songs to accompany his
autobiography and his new one-man play, One Man's Music: A Monologue with
Songs which premiered in Texas in April 2009. Another live album from Bell,
he and his V2 Pawless guitar are joined by Ned Albright on piano. He
re-records some of his finest songs from now out-of-print CDs, and adds new
songs: all 14 are written about in the book or performed in the play.
His songs have been performed and recorded by such diverse talents as Little
Feat, Lyle Lovett, and Nanci Griffith, to name just a few. “Vince is a
poet”, declared the late Townes Van Zandt. Bell, who plays extensively in
the U.S. and Europe, has appeared on such nationally broadcast television
and radio programs as Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage, World Café, In the
Prime, Morning Edition, and several other NPR programs.
This year is definitely the year for One Man’s Music…Vince Bell’s.
Review by Lucky Boyd
Vince Bell currently makes his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but he is Texan
all the way. Vince's most recent project is actually three: His
autobiography, One Man's Music: The Life and Times of Texas Songwriter Vince
Bell, his 5th CD, One Man's Music: The Songs, and a new one-man play, One
Man's Music: A Monologue in Song. The book and CD are for sale here.
So is his earlier CD, Recado. From the opening cut of the CD, Vince's voice
and Cam King's guitar dance together with the ease of life-long partners and
with the grace of ballroom champions. And finally, his 3rd, Live in Texas,
will be available as a download shortly. Originally recorded live at a house
concert in Dallas, Texas, it was mixed and mastered in Nashville by Ely Shaw
who also added a touch of Cam King. Vince Bell's true mastery of song is
evident in this intimate setting and his self-named model Pawless guitar
doesn't fail him. If you don't know the story of Vince Bell, here's your
chance. If you're not already a huge fan, you'll become one instantly.
music and the book!
One Man's Music
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One Man's Music
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