Grinding: For Ed Foster, the road ahead is bright

EdFosterEd Foster is in short supply these days. If he’s not making music, he’s making lattes that belong in a museum. The attention to detail of one art form is mirrored by the other, and it shows: Ed’s got a solo show at the Columbus on March 29 to celebrate his full-length album release this year. Not only that, but the young lad is playing with PVD legends Lightning Bolt as a member of XR-Tabs on March 9 at the Flower Factory in beautiful Olneyville.

For those in the loop of local music and/or fine coffee and coffee accessories, Ed Foster’s lofty frame will be familiar. He’s been slugging his way through the underground for the better part of a decade, developing his songwriting skills, taking gigs both good and odd, and living the life of a sober rockstar. Good things come to those who wait, and Ed is receiving the good bounty of grinding not only coffee beans the past years. Soon enough, he’ll be at the undeniable peak of indie darling-hood in our fair city.

Despite all these time commitments, Ed and I were able to spend some time around the space heater with guitars and keys. His plump cats lolled in the heat of the artificial flame as fat, sticky snowflakes coated the Armory up the street. I did my best to keep up with the changes from material on Ed’s recent solo album, Gone, between tinkering with analog synths and talking influences. Ed cites the classics, the Beatles and Bowie, alongside jazz legends like Cannonball Adderley, and a host of other artists you might call musicians’ musicians. A particular performance of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” a bushy-tailed Ed witnessed in high school showed the young musician just what music could do. Years later, a breakthrough from reworking Bowie’s “Rock ’n Roll Suicide” with XR-Tabs and “the spirit of Bowie himself,” pushed the young Ed into a transformation. And now we can enjoy the results.

Gone, recorded in Ed’s bedroom and XR-Tabs’ practice space, is a treat. Its sinewy mix of lush fingerpicking and mournful crooning lies on a bed of grainy, warm synths. Fleshed-out ballads like single-destined “When You Coming Home?” meld perfectly with instrumental thinkers “Cinematic Theme” and “After School.” The title track will give you chills. Some songs are new, some as old as time, some whipped up in a day, some the result of endless hours of fiddling. It’s deeply impressive in every way. Working with XR-Tabs injected heady arrangements and plenty of analog synth. A noise-abhorrent neighbor made for plenty of time for thinking about what to play before playing it. You can find it for free on Bandcamp under Ed’s artist name of Voodoo Cuisine, but throwing a few dollars in the digital hat is generally considered a class act.

Ed’s other (musical) love, XR-Tabs, features much of the same precision and complexity of Voodoo Cuisine. Ed cites their obsessively tight live performances with much of his own musical success. The band boasts deeply coordinated rhythms, wild staccato melodies and vocals racing fast enough that you might miss just how deep they run, all with a slick, new wave feel. The locked-in grooves are the result of practice seemingly on par with that of a Broadway production. To say they’re tight is to say Rhode Island is small.

For his upcoming show, he’ll be looping like a madman, playing guitar and singing all at once. But for a pro like Ed, it’s not such a big deal. Between recording a new EP with XR-Tabs and continuing to hone his musical voice, Ed reads voraciously and makes sure his cat gets its insulin mixed with chicken broth. It’s a simple life and certainly not without its joys. The cats, after all, are real sweeties, and the road ahead looks bright.

“As for the future, I’m already recording new tracks for a new album,” he told me recently. “I want to play for totally new crowds — there’s nothing like seeing strangers tapping their feet along and digging on your words.”

Readers, don’t be a stranger. Come along, tap those feet, dig on those words and see a couple of shows now that the sun is finally starting to remember that we’re still here.

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