Eric Bibb was raised in the folk tradition, the son of the folk singer Leon Bibb. Bibb’s uncle was the world-famous jazz pianist and composer, John Lewis, part of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Bibb was raised in a music-filled household, as family friends in the 1950s and 1960s included Pete Seeger, Odetta, Bob Dylan, and the late Paul Robeson, who was named Eric’s godfather. Bibb got his first steel guitar at age seven, and he got some advice from Dylan that he never forgot, to “keep it simple, forget all that fancy stuff.” When he was 16, his father asked him to play guitar in the house band for his TV talent show, Someone New.
In 1970, Eric left New York City for Paris, where he met with guitarist Mickey Baker. There he began to focus on blues guitar and after moving to Stockholm, he became enamored with prewar blues. A breakout performance at the 1996 London Blues Festival catapulted Eric to a higher level of visibility. Since then he has toured the world, performing at concert halls and major festivals. He has toured with Robert Cray, Keb Mo, Corey Harris and even opened shows for Ray Charles.
Eric earned a Grammy nomination for his collaboration (with Taj Mahal and others) on the children’s record, Shakin’ A Tailfeather. His album Painting Signs was recognized by New Age Voice as a Finalist for Best Folk Album of 2001. He joined Maria Muldaur and Rory Block to record the gospelflavored Sisters & Brothers, and then released FRIENDS, a collection of duets with Taj Mahal, Odetta, and others. He has been nominated for many W.C. Handy Awards in a variety of categories. Eric’s rich and sensitive vocals and lyrics provide a perfect balance to his fine fingerpicking technique. Purveying a beautifully realized and deftly accomplished soulful folk-blues, Eric has no problem blending various genres effortlessly, melding a traditional rootsy American style with a subtle, contemporary sensibility. On this DVD, Eric performs and talks about his life and musical influences.
Titles include: Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down, Pockets, Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad, Stagolee, Sebastian’s Tune, Goin’ Down Slow, With My Maker I Am One, No More Cane On The Brazos, Shaving Talk, Connected, Tell Riley, New Home, Saucer and Cup, Needed Time, Champagne Habits, Come Back Baby and Still Living On
Running Time: 96 minutes
Review: The DVD title, “The Guitar Artistry of Eric Bibb” suggests a note-by-note guitar lesson by Bibb in how to finger pick and play like him. Nothing is further from the truth. (The same is true for “The Guitar Artistry Of Guy Davis.”) What we have here is an intimate (one hour, 35 minute) evening with Bibb, who sits alone in dark, velvet room playing 17 songs, each with a personal story or introduction by Bibb. There's his story of the influence of his folk singing dad Leon Bibb, his recollection of his Uncle John's glowing Baldwin piano, his meetings with folk icons Odetta, Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, and others through his dad's folk circles, and his memories of blues discoveries like Mississippi John Hurt and Son House, whom he saw at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.
“Still Living On” becomes Bibb's audio blues history lesson. Bibb's name calling of blues elders here and throughout the DVD should open the door to an awareness of names every blues lover should know. Bibb's vocals have a pinch of the folk blues and a pinch of the church. As Bibb softens his picking or picks thunderous chords, his guitar work becomes another important voice in the dynamics of the performance. Show staples like “Pockets,” “Tell Riley,” the deep blues of the blues classic, “Goin' Down Slow,” the prison work song, “No More Cane On The Brazos,” the peaceful contentment of celebrating what you have in “Shaving Talk,” the ancestral past augmented in who we are today in “Connected,” and the comfortable peace of the right mate in “Saucer And Cup.” No blues songwriter melds the floating verses of the blues culture with the modern better then Eric Bibb. “New Home” and “Tell Riley” are the finest examples of this innate skill.
Bibb says, “For the sound of the past to disappear would be tragic.” These older songs he plays are not imitations of Bibb's elders, instead, they are given new life through his modern lens. – Art Tipaldi/Blues Revue