Issue 13-11 March 14, 2019

Eric Bibb cover image

Cover photo © 2019 Joseph A. Rosen.


 In This Issue 

Joseph Jordan has our feature interview with Eric Bibb. We have 6 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Mr. Keith Little, Flaming Mudcats, Shaw Davis & The Black Ties, Mike Munson, Little Queenie and Big Al & The Heavyweights.

Our video of the week is Eric Bibb.

We have the latest in Blues society news. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!


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 Blues Wanderings 

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We made it out to the Alamo in Springfield, IL for a show by Soul legend Johnny Rawls. Our friend James Armstrong sat in for a few songs too. Great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!


 Video Of The Week – Eric Bibb 

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This is a video of Eric Bibb playing “Shingle by Shingle” live. (Click image to watch!)


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

keith little cd imageMr. Keith Little – Plum Crazy

Self Release

www.mrlittlesr.com

11 tracks / 53:03

Mr. Keith Little calls himself “The Cincinnati Blues Man,” which is a hard title to dispute since he works the blues scene in the Queen City, and he has been performing for over five decades. During that time, he has recorded a handful of soulful blues albums, including his recent Soul Santa, which is a real hoot. Keith has also ingrained himself into the local blues community, with heavy involvement in the Cincy Blues Society (former president) and the Performers’ Alliance for Charity (former chief coordinator). Little also had ventured into the video world, as writer and producer of a Cincinnati blues and jazz video documentary, Thanks for My Flowers, and as host and producer of his own TV show, “Mr. Little’s Hangout” WBQC, which used to air on a local tv station.

Keith’s latest release, Plum Crazy, is a cool set of ten original tunes and one cover that was recorded at Slaughter House Music in Cincinnati, Ohio. Keith used a full band for this project, including a tight horn section, but there are no details of the musicians who participated, and Mr. Little was not able to be reached to get these details. This is a shame, as these folks definitely deserve a shout-out for the fine work they did. One guest artist did get props for her participation, and that would be Chicago’s Nellie “Tiger” Travis who posted some awesome vocals on the title track courtesy of Joy Ride Studio in the Windy City.

Little is a singer and songwriter, and Plum Crazy gives the listener a good idea of what he is capable of. His baritone vocals are pleasingly soulful, and at times he lapses into a spoken word mode, which is eerily reminiscent of Barry White. This is exactly what the opener “I Can Deal with It,” delivers, and on this upbeat funky blues tune his vocals are accompanied by tight horns and brief guitar and keyboard solos. His style does well with the message of the lyrics, which explain that he can help out his lady with whatever “problems” she has.

Up next, the listener gets a real treat with the title track, “Plum Crazy,” which is a bawdy blues revue with oodles of innuendo. This uptempo track has a popping bass line and tight horns, and the sultry vocals of Nellie Travis which work so well with Little’s voice. Nellie is a true treasure of the Chicago blues scene: a protégé to the late Koko Taylor who has made her own place in the blues as a worldwide blues phenomenon and festival headliner.

From there, the album uses blues, R&B and jazz to explore all the problems that can happen with relationships, and it seems like in Little’s opinion the things that go wrong are always the woman’s fault. In “The Tables Have Turned,” he is saddled with a woman who does not love him anymore. “Letter to My Wife” is a laundry list of things that he does not like about her and her friends. And “Strange Feelings” describes the feeling of a man who thinks that his girl is steeping out on him. You probably get the picture.

By the way, there is one cover tune on this album, Johnny Taylor’s “Just Because,” from 1976. This R&B song has softer edges than the rest of the playlist, and this provides a cool break in the middle of the album. That being said, Mr. Keith Little’s version is still a little edgier than the original but leaving out the synthesizers for this re-do was a definitely a wise choice.

Plum Crazy is a fun piece of local blues from Mr. Keith Little, and he has some samples of it on his website if you want to hear his music for yourself. He does not have any upcoming shows listed, but judging from the disc, his live show would probably be a good time too!

Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at rexbass.blogspot.com.


 

 2019 Blues Blast Music Award Artist Submissions Now Open 

The 2019 Blues Blast Music Award submissions are now open. There are 12 categories. Eligibility dates and all submission details are at: www.bluesblastmagazine.com/bbma-submission-information

Submissions remain open until April 15th. Nominees are announced in June. Voting begins in July.

SAVE THE DATE – September 13, 2019 for the Blues Blast Music Awards at Tebala Event Center in Rockford, IL. More details of the 2019 BBMAs coming soon!


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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

flaming mudcats cd imageFlaming Mudcats – Cut Loose

Mudcat Music (Self-Released)

www.theflamingmudcats.com

12 tracks

The Flaming Mudcats hail from Auckland, New Zealand, but easily could be mistaken to be from Chicago’s south side. They played at one of Crossroads Blues Society’s Field of Blues Festivals and at one of their Festivals at Lyran Park, both in Rockford, so I’m familiar with this great band from the other side of the world.

Craig Bracken sings and plays harp, Doug Bygrave is on guitar and Ian Thompson is on drums and backing vocals. Johnny Yu is newer to the band (and from California) as bassist and backing vocalist. Chris Hartley is a guest on Hammond, piano and Wurlitzer, Ben McNicoll plays the saxes and Louis Bernstone is on keys.

The CD kicks off with “Moving To The Country,” a pretty little cut with a nice groove and Bracken sings about moving out of the city. The guitar solo rings sweetly and then later we get a little harp to enjoy. “Rooster Blues” is a jump blues that’s a lot of fun in the tradition of great barnyard blues songs. It’s the lone cover here, a Lightnin Slim song. Up next is “Why Why” with a driving beat and gritty vocals. The harp is showcased here first and then another nice little guitar solo is offered up to enjoy. “Cut Me Loose” is a cool, slow country roots tune with Bracken testifying vocally and ten Bygrave testifies on guitar. They offer up “Missed My Chance” next, a mid-tempo swing tune of lost opportunity. Bygrave gives us another solo to enjoy. “Trying to Get Ahead” starts out with some sweet and greasy harp and a nice beat. Clean vocals and another cool guitar solo sell this one along with Bracken’s harp work.

“Getaway” is another swing cut with some barrelhouse piano and a great vibe. “Hey Margarita” swings with a bit of rockabilly and makes for a fun ride and a nice sax solo to boot. Next is “”Show Me Some Love,” a cool jump blues that keeps the excellent vibe going. Things slow way down for “Sneakin Around,” a pretty slow blues cut with nice, restrained and mellow guitar work. “Welcome To My Blues returns us to swing and the boys do what they do best. Sax and piano get some good time up front here. The album concludes with “Cry No More” with a slower tempo beat and an old school sound. Nice harp and guitar make this even better.

What’s not to like here? The Mudcats now have three great albums under their belt in their ten year history that they can be proud of. I loved this new CD; if you like to swing and jump, this is the album for you! I really enjoyed this album.

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.



 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 6 

shaw davis cd imageShaw Davis & The Black Ties – Tales From The West

Chin Music Records

www.shawdavisblackties.com

9 tracks

This is the second release from this South Florida Band. Shaw Davis and his band competed last year at the IBC. Davis does vocal work and plays guitar while Patrick Stevenson also supports the vocals and plays bass and Bobby Van Stone plays drums and helps on vocals, too. Two covers and nine originals are included here.

The CD opens with “Take My Hand,” which starts with a nice bass riff. A heavy rocker, this one gets the listener’s attention with the driving beat. The 1969 Frank Zappa blues rocker is basically turned into a heavy metal song. I was never a huge Zappa fan, but this does not do the cut justice unless you are looking for heavy hard rock licks and death metal-styled lyrics. Not my cup of tea, but maybe there is a listener base for this. The guitar work was, however, very good. Next is the title cut, a rock ballad that intensifies and turns into a big, stadium rocker. “Mama Told Me” is another massive rock guitar work. The vocals start with some restraint, but the guitar holds nothing back and works through to a stratospheric solo. Following that is another heavy rocker, “Fire Inside.” No blues again, but they show off some more big guitar riffs and licks.

“Know Where You’ve Been” is another slower but driving cut with over amped vocals and heavy guitar and backline support. The guitar solo has no air between the notes, with shredding to the max as the sound they are looking for here. Meh. The next tune is “Atomic Groove” where I feared they’d take it up to even higher notches of hard, hard rocking. Things began slowly and calmly so I was settled in before they let all hell break loose with more shredding and stadium rock antics. They showed some interesting variety within it stylistically, but it’s really just more hard rock and shredding. Junior Kimbrough’s “I Gotta Try You Girl” was next. I was hoping for blues to finally appear, but alas they only emulated the Kimbrough guitar sound a bit. They lacked some of the distortion that Junior was known for, but it was similar. Buddy Guy covered it turned it somewhat psychedelic with the vocals and pedal work in his version. The vocals were more restrained here and I liked them, but they still had to add a big shredding solo and stratospheric guitar here and there to the cut; otherwise, I loved the guitar work here. Not too bluesy in style, it still packs a punch. The set concludes with “My Friend.” The song starts softly and somberly, not really blues but a pleasant sort of rock. At about 2-1/2 minutes in the gears change and again hell breaks loose. The guitar goes way over the top as do the vocals. This goes on for over 5 more minutes before things conclude.

Listed as a “powerhouse blues-rock trio,” after listening to this I can’t say that any of the songs really represent the blues. This is hard rock with a Frank Zappa cover that gets way, way into the metal genre. So if you want traditional blues or even blues rock, you won’t find any here. If you like shredding and over the top guitar and vocals, this is for you. If you are looking for anything that even remotely resembles the blues at times, this is not it.

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.


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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 6 

mike munson cd imageMike Munson – Rose Hill

Blue Front Records

www.mikemunson.net

13 tracks

Mike Munson toured with Jimmy “Duck” Holmes in 2015 and ever since Duck has wanted Mike to record on country blues label Blue Front Records. Holmes is noted as one of the Bentonia raw blues greats. In summer 2016 Munson walked to Jack Owen’s Blues Trail Marker and then continued on to where his house used to be. The album was first synthesized in Munson’s mind as he walked that road, named Rose Hill.

The Blue Front Café where this was recorded also saw the likes of Jack, Skip James, and many others over the years. Munson writes and plays in that Bensonia style and covers several songs here: Jack Owen’s “Jack Ain’t Had No Water” (with Duck on harp), Skip James “Illinois Blues,” “Shake Em On Down” by Booker White, Duck’s “Broke & Hungry” and the traditional “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed & Burning.”

Munson begins with “Rotgut Devil,” a cool slide tune with heavy guitar and slick vocals in a country blues style. Munson plays some great guitar in that Bentonia style- guttural and visceral stuff. Owen’s cut follows. Here we get a prettier and cleaner acoustic guitar sound and some nice country harp, too. The slow and deliberate pacing and old style sound is addictive. UP next is “Sinner,” a pensive and darker cut. It’s simple, stark and just cool stuff. Skip James is up next; Munson finger picks sweetly and sings so well again. The title cut features beautiful stuff. Munson plays with feeling and emotion as he picks out some very cool stuff. What a beautiful instrumental piece!

Side B opens with “Keep Your Lamps…” and again features outstanding picking, slide and some distorted and slick vocals. Well done! Holmes song follows with Libby Rae Watson on the saw. Watson plays the saw and adds an air of mystique and just cool sounds to the piece. Munson sounds authentic vocally and picks out some fine country blues. “Good As Good Can Be” is up following that, a sweet slow cut. “Rat Catcher” follows and picks up a pace just a bit, more interesting stuff. Booker White’s tune features some slick slide and a nice groove. There is lots more super finger-picking here. A short saw interlude is in between “Shake “Em On Down,” a spooky and ethereal sound of saw and guitar fluttering about. “Big Black” seems to be another version of “Sinner” or at least similar lyrically. Dark and foreboding, it’s very cool with a different guitar and tone than “Sinner.” A four second post track that appears blank ends the set.

This is a great album. Here we have an acoustic album that will garner lots of attention for awards for 2018. Munson is an exceptional guitar player and finger picker. His singing is solid and authentic. The original songs he wrote and played are in that Bensonia style and had a great authentic feel. The covers are also great; Munson has done an exception job here and I think we will be hearing a lot more great stuff from him- highly recommended!

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.



 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6 

little queenie cd imageLittle Queenie – Purple Heart

Deeva Records/XYYX Records XYYX003

12 songs – 56 minutes

www.littlequeenie.com

A fixture in New Orleans since the ‘70s, Leigh “Little Queenie” Harris has been a fixture in New Orleans nightlife since the ‘70s, and this disc consists of material once thought lost, but has been rediscovered after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

Mixing a roux of funk, blues and R&B, Little Queenie began her career with a regular house gig at the famed Tipitina’s. A petite, fun-loving and powerhouse with a distinctive, warm down home voice, she regularly shared billing with a who’s who of Crescent City royalty, including Allen Toussaint, Dr. John and The Meters for decades. Her work has been featured in Treme and several major movies, including John Sayles’ Eight Men Out, a dramatization of the Chicago Black Sox baseball scandal.

Frequently appearing at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, she’s worked with Elvis Costello, Delbert McClinton and Bryan Ferry, among others, but is now living under hospice care in rural North Carolina, where she’s fighting a courageous battle against stage-four breast cancer.

Queenie’s backed here by a lineup that includes several top names on the Louisiana music scene, including guitarists Jimmy Robinson and CC Adcock, keyboard players Josh Paxton, Larry Siebert and George Rossi, percussionists Doug Belote and Doug Boudreau, bassists Sarah Brown and Chris Severin, sax player Roderick Paulin, trumpet player Bobby Campo and washboard player Alex Harris McDonald, several of whom contributed tunes to the project.

The disc opens with a new version of “My Dawlin New Orleans,” which was featured in the last scene of the debut episode of Treme. Queenie delivers a lengthy, rhythmic spoken intro that colorfully describes the Big Easy before the music builds beneath her. It’s a poly rhythmic pleaser aided by Bonerama sure to put a smile on your face.

The action slows for the slow shuffle “Whatever You Had,” the realization that the singer doesn’t love her man any longer and that it’s time for him to go. Adcock’s sultry love ballad “Come Inside” is unhurriedly delivered with a strong bayou feel before a funky acoustic cover of “Down Home Girl,” a B-side release by Alvin Robinson in 1964 and a hit for The Coasters three years later.

Queenie dips into Percy Mayfield’s catalog next for a sweet take on the stop-time pleaser, “Lost My Mind,” which is delivered from the position of a lady who’s both devil and angel and “as sweet and cruel as homemade sin” before the action heats up with the soul blues “Shoulda Kept On Walkn,” another take on having been in a relationship far too long.

Penned by Austin-based Brown, the percussive “He Knows His Way Around” finds Queenie in the role of a MILF on the hunt for a young, skillful lover. A bare-bones take on Sam Cooke classic “Lost And Lookin’” is up next with the singer basically a capella except for the beating of a drum before “Slingshots And Boomerangs,” an uptempo swamp rocker written by Adcock and featuring Queenie’s son, Alex, on washboard.

First recorded David Bowie in the ‘70s, “Stay” comes across with a New Orleans feel in a six-minute version that’s both slower and funkier than the original before “Every Time Like The First Time,” written by John Magnie of The Subdudes, and “If Ever I Cease To Love,” the ballad that’s served the Mardi Gras theme for the Rex Krewe since its first parade in 1872, bring the album to a close.

Hopefully, Purple Heart isn’t Little Queenie’s swan song. Available through Amazon and other retailers, she percolates and simmers like fine gumbo.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., his first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.


 


 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

big al and the heavyweights cd imageBig Al & The Heavyweights – World Full Of Trouble

EllerSoul Records – 2018

12 tracks; 44 minutes

www.bigal.net

Big Al & The Heavyweights was founded by drummer Big Al Lauro and Warren Haynes in 1993 before Warren became part of The Allman Brothers and Gov’t Mule. Since then the band has produced seven albums and continues to mix all types of roots music on their latest – blues, gospel, New Orleans Rn’B, zydeco, even country. The core band is Big Al on drums, Dean Galatas on bass, Destin Thibodeaux on harmonica, Lance Younger on guitar/vocals and Wayne Lohr on keys/vocals; guests include Bob Margolin and John Lisi on guitar, Jason Ricci on harmonica, Lance Ellis on saxophones, Greg Shatz on accordion, Glenn Sears on percussion and Cathy Pace and Donna Slayer (Jezebel’s Chill’n) on backing vocals. The album was recorded at Slidell, Louisiana and produced by George Cureau Jr, Big Al and Wayne; all the material is original with writing credits shared across the band, Al and Wayne being involved in most of the songs.

The title track makes a lively start to the album with Lance and Bob Margolin providing a twin guitar lead that gives the tune an Allmans feel. Wayne sings the next two, the swampy “Fool For Yourself” has John Lisi’s guitar snaking round Destin’s harp and Lance Ellis’ sax before Bob Margolin marks his second appearance with a striking solo on the pleasantly upbeat “Love So Fine” which also has excellent piano from Wayne. Lance is on lead vocals on the next two tracks, a gospel-infused “Testify” which benefits from the churchy backing vocals of Jezebel’s Chill’n and “Bayou Life” which allows the band to get back to its Louisiana roots with accordion and busy, buzzing harp from Jason Ricci.

Horns are added to “Big Rusty Car”, Wayne’s tribute to his ‘get me home’ vehicle which may not look much but continues to provide a service and the alto sax lends a jazzy feel to “Spanish Moss”. Dwight Breinad’s steel guitar provides a country feel to the amusing and entertaining “Mother Trucker” which Lance sings in a deep country voice. Wayne leads on “Millionaire Baby” which combines delicate guitar by John Lisi, some fine harp from Jason Ricci and a solid horn arrangement, making it one of the outstanding tracks here. On the bouncing shuffle “Crazy About You” Jason and Destin share harp duties and Destin also deps on bass (presumably not at the same time!). Lance Younger sings “Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right”, a swinging number with jazzy guitar, swirling organ and harp and the album concludes with a soulful, horn-driven ballad from Wayne, “Something Got To Change”.

This is an eclectic album with something for everyone. Well written songs delivered by two solid vocalists, well supported by a good band and willing volunteers giving a helping hand – definitely a keeper!

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.


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 Featured Interview – Eric Bibb 

eric bibb photo 1With over forty superb albums, a five-decade career that’s made him an international star, and as one of the most remarkable performers in any musical genre, Eric Bibb is a singer, songwriter and ultimately, a very special artist.

In concert, and in recordings, he touches people, goes into their hearts, and stays there. He’s an artist who reaches listeners with his stories and songs, much like that of influential performers such as Guy Davis, Doug MacLeod, Corey Harris, and Keb’ Mo’. Bibb is a troubadour, telling tales and relating loving lessons through his music. Bibb’s music is one of honest simplicity, yet roaring with humanity.

His rapport and simpatico with his audiences is extremely special, and his story-telling abilities and penchant for brilliant original and cover songs create an immediate connection with listeners.

Bibb was born in New York City in August of 1951 and his upbringing was an engaging one. His parents were especially creative & encouraging his father, the late Leon Bibb (a senior fixture of the NY folk scene and social activist,) was extremely musical.

“I would cut school and claim I was sick. When everyone would leave the house I would whip out all the records and do my own personal DJ thing all day long, playing Odetta, Joan Baez, the New Lost City Ramblers, Josh White.”

Their home was filled with musicians and major musical presences… Bob Dylan, Paul Robeson Pete Seeger, the Reverend Gary Davis, Judy Collins and many others. Bibb’s uncle is the superb pianist & composer John Lewis, founder of the Modern Jazz Quartet. The monumentally-important artist/activist and consummate American Paul Robeson was Bibb’s Godfather.

“Paul’s influence was at a distance, but was nonetheless powerful throughout my upbringing and continues to be. He just had that personal, powerful effect on people and he had a huge effect on my Dad developing both as an artist and as a political activist. Paul’s philosophy of life and his story has been a part of our family’s fabric, so he’s always been there.”

As an early teen, he studied at New York City’s High School of Music and Art, where he learned classical guitar, piano and double bass, and of course, vocals.

“I was around music and guitar players and various instruments from a very young age because my dad had wonderful accompanists throughout his career. I was exposed to fantastic guitar playing at an early age. I am self-taught though. Most musicians have a combination of being self-taught which means just experimenting on your own, but also having at some point at least a little bit of formal music education. I personally had several good teachers however I didn’t make real use of their expertise and their time, but they were influences in any case… jazz teachers, classical guitar teachers and more. I went to a high school of music which introduced me to orchestral and choir music, so it’s been a combination of formal music training and just never stopping when it comes to playing the guitar.”

When Eric was seven years of age, he was gifted with his first guitar, a steel-stringed acoustic. It was the start of a musical romance between man and instrument that continues to this day, as each learns about the other through both practice and performance. The guitar chose him. “It was an instrument that fascinated me from very early on and it was accessible, it was around. Pianos were also around, but that wasn’t really my passion. Guitar seemed to grab me early on.”

eric bibb photo 2Bibb’s a prolific musical wonder, who plays a myriad of guitars (among them, baritone, contrabass, slide, 6, 7, and 12-string, Resonator, National Steel, etc.) along with banjo & fiddle. It’s rare that he picks up a purely electric guitar.

“If I have to amplify, it is usually with an acoustic guitar, but I do have electric guitars which I rarely use when I perform or on recordings, but I have them. To me it’s almost like a separate instrument so I haven’t had a lot of time in that zone. It’s interesting to me, but not as interesting as the acoustic. I play a little bit of Wurlitzer & electric piano once in a while. I play a little harmonica, and I’m certainly a novice, but that’s very rare. It’s usually the string instruments (I play.)”

When he was sixteen, he was a member of a television house band for a talent show (his dad’s “Someone New,”) and at eighteen, he played guitar for the Negro Ensemble Company at St. Mark’s Place in New York. While still a teen, he studied psychology and Russian language at Columbia University in NYC.

Like any American teenager he listened to rock and roll, but it ultimately did not captivate him. “I listened to everything that was on the airwaves, like any American kid. There was a soul station down the end of the dial, and mainstream radio with the Beatles, and the Dave Clark Five, plus the sounds of Motown & Stax. It was all there, The Doors, Jose Feliciano, everybody. Everything you heard. I was open to all kinds of sound, I heard all of that stuff.”

In 1970 he moved to Europe where in Paris he met creative guitar genius Mickey Baker (who recorded “Love is Strange” with his female partner forming Mickey and Sylvia,) who helped him develop a compelling and lifelong interest in acoustic guitar blues. Soon after, Bibb fully discovered world music and the rich history of pre-WW2 American blues. His Gospel, folk and soul roots run deeper than most.

When he first started performing, he admitted to a few butterflies.

“This has been a work in progress. My so-called “ease” and I understand why people feel it because I’m sometimes really at ease when I walk on stage. But that’s definitely something that comes with time because that was not happening from the beginning. What was happening from the beginning was a need to perform. The nervous thing was always there. Certain situations I find a bit nervy. Live television is not my favorite medium. I love radio, but live television somehow is quite stressful.”

“However, I was always fascinated by the one-man or one-woman troubadour. One person could stand on a street corner with a guitar and just do it all. It would sound complete and you could make a living from it. I thought that really was an achievement.”

When asked how he might describe his music (a wonderfully wide combination of soul-blues-folk-Gospel and world music) to a new listener, he told us, “If you have to use generic terms, and I understand why it’s happened that way, I find it to be ultimately inhibiting to an artist. I think what you can say about my music is that I certainly was heavily influenced by all of the folk music I’ve ever heard, and that includes not only music from the African-American and American traditions, but we’re talking about where folk music has been a big part of my musical diet since I was very young. Jazz has certainly been a part of it, not to mention blues and gospel, which is really American folk music as well. So, in the end, any musician is influenced by anything they’ve ever really liked. And if they decide to clip their wings and fit into a certain box it’s a choice that one makes, consciously or not. But music is way beyond all of these hard-lined boundaries, because it denies the fact that it’s in flow. There are no borders when it comes to music. Every artist is picking up on lots of things. Those borders are artificial. It’s been a case where we might want to be all those things, however in the end it’s been about marketing music and sometimes the most efficient way is to limit it. I think there’s validity on both sides.”

eric bibb photo 3He started his recording career in the early 70s, creating magical blues-oriented music, completely stripped of pretense. Some of his favorite albums, among the myriad he’s recorded, have been particularly meaningful to him. All of his albums have been important to his growth, but several have come closest to who he feels he was at the time, as a performer and a human being.

“All of them to one degree or another are right there. One of the records that comes to mind is A Ship Called Love, (2005) or Diamond Days (2006.) I find those records pretty definitive of where I was at the time. There’s another album that’s really important to me, because it’s live, released on the French label, DixieFrog Records, called Live at Fip. (2009.) It’s a really cool record.”

If someone were new to his music and wanted to get at the very least an introduction to who Bibb was and is, there are many, many choices. “I’d say, Booker’s Guitar, (2010) Spirit in the Blues, (1999) Migration Blues, (2017) Diamond Days, (2006) There’s so many records, but those come to my mind quickly.”

He later moved to Sweden and even taught music in schools there.

His recording with his late father Leon is experienced on two albums, Family Affair (2002) and Praising Peace. A Tribute to Paul Robeson (2006)

“That was a dream come true for me. I wish we had recorded more. I loved being in the studio with my dad. Those three records are just treasures for me. He was my hero from my first musical moment, period. Taking it full circle and to be able to produce him was really an indescribable pleasure.”

In the late 90s and beyond, he formed record labels, toured constantly and recorded prolifically. “Folk music (or world music these days) continues to be vital fare for me-like air, food and water”

In the Oughts, Bibb created a one-man, multi-media stage show encompassing lights, images and of course songs entitled, “Tales of a Blues Brother.” It usually leaves the audience both appreciative and breathless.

(The performance) “always makes for a special evening. I just played a concert in Paris, a one-man show. It was interesting because I did it in English and it worked out fine. I do perform it sporadically and I’m really happy that it’s out there. It’s been filmed, so possibly it may become available on Public Television or something like that. I’ll keep people posted.” (via his website: www.ericbibb.com.)

Bibb’s album, Friends (2004) brought him together with stellar artists, among them, Taj Mahal, Odetta, Guy Davis, Charlie Musselwhite, and many international artists such as the Mali-born Kora player, Mamadou Diabate.

As for turning points in his career, “I would bring up a record called “Friends,” performing with lots of wonderful colleagues of mine. Another cool record that’s kind of interesting as a special and particular point in time is called Me To You. (2000) That was the first major record deal I ever had. It lasted for just that one record, then Warner Brothers pulled the plug. It was produced by a wonderful member of the British Blues Scene, Mike Vernon of Blue Code Records. He was very supportive of me. Mike was also the one that made it possible for me to record with several heroes, notably Pops and Mavis Staples.”

eric bibb photo 4In 2018, Eric recorded Pray, Sing, Love (2018) with his wife Ulrica, It’s a particularly beautiful album, and a joy to listen to.

“We’ve been collaborating for a longer time than we’ve been married. We’ve been man-and-wife (since 2014) but we’ve made music before that, but this particular record was really a celebration of our marriage. It’s an album that we’re really happy with, and we hope a lot of people that just love music discover it.“

The remarkable Global Griot (2018) was developed in collaboration with a joy of expression in song not found in many other recordings. It is so infectious, at many times tender. It will generate a greater appreciation for international music, especially that of Africa. A Griot of Western Africa is “a member of a caste responsible for maintaining an oral record of tribal history in the form of music, poetry and story-telling.”

“My ongoing reunion with West Africa is a life-changing blessing. Collaborating with and befriending musicians from legendary Griot families has been a long awaited homecoming – like a healing, singing river washing over my soul. It has been an honor and a great pleasure to introduce my fellow global Griots with this gathering of the tribes.”

Produced by Bibb and any number of musical compatriots, it features originals and covers, (such as Big Bill Broonzy’s “Black, Brown and White.”) Global Griot introduces relatively unknown but enthralling players to Western audiences. Bibb also makes room on the album for well-known bluesmen such as the great Canadian artist, Harrison Kennedy, as well as the pure voiced song of Bibb’s wife Ulrica and the superb Cultural Heritage Choir founder/member Linda Tillery plus the aforementioned, multi-instrumentalist and producer Glen Scott.

The two-disc set is separated into two “acts” and was recorded in France, Sweden, England, Jamaica, Canada, Ghana and the good old U.S.A. All of it is cohesive and comes through as a gentle labor of love.

It contains a stunning cover of the American Civil War-period slave spiritual, “Michael, Row Da Boat Ashore,” which will make listeners tingle with remembrance of another time, yet it fits perfectly with the rigors of our day. The album is sincere and deep, acoustic and alive, and one that needs to be heard.

Bibb comes across fellow-players to perform or record with certainly by way of festivals, cruises, club dates, symphony halls and concerts, and he knows he is much the richer for it.

“Musicians are always good conduits to meeting other musicians. I meet a lot of musicians and not everybody is someone you feel drawn to, to the point where you want to collaborate with them. But (when it happens,) it’s an unmistakable feeling of magnetism and you basically end up asking the person, ‘Hey, would you like to do something together?’ You usually know within a half hour of meeting them, that it’s obvious that you would just play good music together.”

Eric has recorded his albums in many nations, around the world. How has he chosen where and when?

“Maybe they choose me. I travel a lot and I choose to record wherever I am. So if I find a good studio in my vicinity and I have a day off, I might check that out. It’s a good way to catch things in the moment.”

eric bibb photo 5The challenge of producing oneself is always problematic in regard to objectivism, despite what many self-producing performers may say.

“The real challenge is when it comes to something really ambitious, you really need objectivity and you’re the main person involved. But when it comes to producing myself on something simpler, I have no problemEric Bibb playing “Shingle by Shingle Live”.artistic opportunities (and ones) I never saw coming. He is a bigger dreamer than me, so it’s great to do something with a musical vision that’s huge and someone who appreciates you… that’s a good producer.”

Newcomers to his music might find several opportunities to be introduced to Bibb’s mighty music. “What comes to mind are Blues People (2014) and Migration Blues, (2017) although there are quite a few others.

And for something different in the future, Bibb states, “There are blues fans that only listen to blues as it were and there are blues fans that listen to blues and a whole lot of everything else that’s related. So I would say that one day I might make an album that’s dominated by specific blues tunes… some kind of gumbo. In the end, I’m resistant to that blues tribe being so pedantic about it. That’s all.“

Bibb has had multiple Grammy nominations and still enjoys the amount of The Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Award wins and many other accolades he’s received over the years.

“The awards always feel good when you get word of them. But it’s really at this point not important to me on a scale of one-to-ten. However it’s always nice to be recognized by your peers. I like it… it’s a good feeling.”

Bibb has opened for Ray Charles, George Benson and Robert Cray among many others. Dan Aykroyd, host of the “House of Blues Radio Hour” once told Eric “You are what the blues in the new century should be about.” And Bibb is all of that.

And luckily, there are many YouTube videos of this unique and special artist and we encourage you to spend some time with them. You’ll feel his sincerity, and especially heart with all of them. And an evening’s performance with Eric Bibb is always extremely special… he’s just that good.

What does the near or far future hold in store for him? It holds simply more music; loving his friends, family and children; traveling, performing; recording and making memorable music both alone and with fellow musicians. All while stretching the boundaries of his personal song and striking growth as an artist.

Eric has become, through years of a creative journey a wandering minstrel to the world. He happily strives to reach “a further exploration into the place where blues meets gospel and soul.”

And we would add, magic.

Visit Eric’s website at: www.ericbibb.com.

Reviewer Joseph Jordan has a passion for and commitment to the Blues. He is a longtime journalist, critic, reviewer and music photographer, specializing in both the SF Bay Area and national Blues scenes. He has been a contributing writer with many national publications including deCapo Press, Blues Blast Magazine, Blues Access, Blues Revue & Southland Blues. He is a proud member of The Blues Foundation..



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The Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Blues Society is proud to announce that Buffalo’s favorite son, Tommy Z, will be the featured artist for our April Blues Bash, and 26th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, April 7! Doors open at 7:00, and show starts at 8:00, to be followed by an open blues jam. Admission is free for members with valid cards, $5.00 for others. The show will be at The Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte, NC 28205.

We continue to collect non-perishable foods and household items for Loaves and Fishes. We hope to collect 2,000 pounds this year to help stamp out hunger in Charlotte. 1 Can? I Can! It promises to be a great evening! Hope to see you there!

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Monthly shows on the second Saturday of each month at Hope and Anchor English Pub on N 2nd St in Loves Park, IL. 4/13/19 The Cash Box Kings and 5/11/19 Corey Dennison Band. All shows 8 PM to 11:30 PM.

First and Third Friday’s feature the Blues at the Lyran Society Club on 4th Avenue in Rockford and a great fish fry, too! The schedule is 3/15/19 Milwaukee Slim with Billy Flynn, 4/5/19 Dave Fields and 4/19/19 Oscar Wilson and Joel Patterson. No cover, 7 pm to 10 pm.

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for Blue Monday live performances held every Monday night at the Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. Additional information on any performer listed below is available upon request.

March 18 – Rooster Alley Band, March 25 – Aaron Griffin, March 27 – Billy Galt & the Blues Deacons, April 1 – Brandon Santini Album Release Party, April 8 – The L.A. Jones Quartet with Adrianna Marie, April 10 – Dan Rivero, April 15 – Gracie Curran & the High Falutin’ Band, April 22 – Marty D. Spikener’s On Call Band, April 24 – Hard Road Blues Band , April 29 – Kilborn Alley Blues Band, May 6 – Orphan Jon and The Abandoned.

Also ICBC willl be celebrating their 33rd year in business on March 30 with the ICBC 33rd Birthday Celebration at K of C, 2200 S. Meadowbrook Rd, Springfield, IL. Doors open @ 6:00 PM, Torrey Casey & the Southside Hustle 7:00 PM followed by Joanna Connor Band.For more information visit www.icbluesclub.org.

Grand County Blues Society – Denver, CO

Blues guitar superstar Walter Trout headlines Blue Star Denver 8, presented by Blue Star Connection in conjunction with the Grand County Blues Society, a Benefit Concert, Silent Auction, and Gear Drive, Saturday, March 23, at Turnhalle Ballroom at The Tivoli, located at Metropolitan State University of Denver, 900 Auraria Parkway. Doors open 5:30pm, showtime is 6:00PM. Tickets: $25.00 (General Admission), $35.00 (Reserved), $69. (VIP); $750.00 (VIP Premier Table). Info: (303) 726-6111 or visit www.bluestarconnection.org.  Also performing: Honey Island Swamp Band, B To The Sixth, and Special Guest, Kate Moss.

Net proceeds benefit Blue Star Connection, to help carry out their mission of providing access and ownership of musical instruments for children and young adults with cancer and other serious life challenges. To date, BSC has reached over eight-hundred kids and has donated musical gear to sixty-five Children’s Hospitals and Music Therapy Programs as well as several other community programs.


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