ERIC BIBB & BAND– The Gov Wednesday 22 May 2019
Words Geoff Jenke
Eric Bibb has been playing guitar since he was seven and at sixteen, he was playing in a band. Ever on the move, pursuing a career spanning five decades, never resting on his laurels, Eric Bibb has a full bag of stories to tell from around the world and he is here to bring his new album Global Griot to us.
The album was recorded in France, Sweden, Jamaica, Ghana, Canada, the UK and the US! If the expression “World Music” were not so problematic and much misused as a marketing tool it would suit Eric’s approach. But Eric is first and foremost a “blues brother”- an old school bluesman who is always finding ways to expand his domain.
Local band Lazy Eye warmed the crowd up nicely with their take on the blues. The three-piece worked their way through “smoke and scotch fuelled” songs that belong in B.B. Kings Blues Club in Memphis, but luckily for us were served up at The Gov. Erica Graf on guitar was simply amazing, sending blues licks to every part of the room. It was easy to see why this band were once again named “Group of the Year” at the 2019 Australian Blues Music Awards.
Eric Bibb walked on stage, sat down, plugged in and gave us a solo rendition of Louis Jimmy Oden’s 1941 song, Goin’ Down Slow. Eric’s guitar playing was amazing and we were obviously going to have a great evening.
Eric then quietly introduced his band for the evening before setting off on a journey through original and blues covers. Eric has been very prolific over his career, releasing over 20 solo and 18 collaboration albums, plus a whole selection of special appearances on compilation albums. He is passionate about the blues and in this age when all the older great blues players have left this world, we need people like Eric Bibb to carry on the tradition.
Eric is also full of stories about what he is singing and each song had its own story. Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad was simply stunning. With aDollar in my Pockettells the story of a black blues man having to run from Mississippi to Boston because he threatened a supervisor in the factory.
Eric also tells us about the song Dance me To The End of the World, laughing when some of us thought he was doing a cover of the Leonard Cohen song of the same name. Eric wrote this song after seeing the paining by the same name, the painting being inspired by Cohen’ song. “Anyway, Cohen’s lawyers haven’t contacted me yet” he laughed before launching into the truly beautiful song.
At one stage when tuning his guitar, he smiled at the audience and commented “Tuning a guitar is like airplane maintenance, it’s worthwhile”. Yes it is.
Before Eric started the song “I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground”from his latest album, he taught us the words so we could sing along with him, and we did. The set finished with an electric In My Father’s House with the three-piece band behind him firing up for the occasion.
The band wasn’t getting away without an encore and they returned for Don’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down. Eric humbly thanked us all for coming before heading to the merch desk to sign autographs and have photos taken.
Eric Bibb is a blues master. Long may he travel the roads of the world, preaching the blues to us humble people. A masterpiece of a performance.