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Blues People

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Album Review

Eric Bibb's version of the blues is hushed and elegant, as much or more about redemption as it is about despair. His best songs, often built on traditional patterns and rhythms, are wise and affirming, and they fall to the brighter and more hopeful side of the blues, a vision that makes him the spiritual descendant of Blind Willie Johnson, say, more than Robert Johnson. Bibb isn't about to go down to the crossroads and make some deal with the devil. His version of folk-blues isn't about that sort of stuff. It's closer to gospel in tone, with a strong commitment to betterment and change, bereft of personal demons, and filled instead with cultural ones. Blues People has all of this on display. It's calm, serious, warm, thoughtful, and wonderfully recorded (the album was produced by Glen Scott), and if it doesn't expand Bibb's musical template much, it isn't supposed to, and it ends up being one of Bibb's finest outings. Taking its title from Amiri Baraka's groundbreaking 1963 book Blues People (Baraka was still LeRoi Jones when the book was published), the album is full of musical guests, from Taj Mahal to the Blind Boys of Alabama, but none of them capsize the emotional balance of the set, adding to, rather than detracting, from the songs they appear on. The album has a stark tone, but also a deep warmth, with songs like "Silver Spoon" (which features Popa Chubby), "Driftin' Door to Door," "Where Do We Go" (with vocal help from Leyla McCalla), and "Needed Time" (highlighted by clawhammer banjo from Taj Mahal and gorgeous vocals from the Blind Boys of Alabama) all giving off a calm, determined urgency. The emotional center of the set is undoubtedly "Rosewood," the narrative story of Rosewood, a whistle-stop town in Florida that was the scene of a racially motivated massacre in 1923, and is a symbol of one of the lowest points in American history. In Bibb's hands, the song not only recounts the story and its horrors, but also draws parallels between the evils of the slave trade and the persistence of intolerance and racism in the 21st century.

Customer Reviews

Inspirational Blues

First time listener of Eric Bibb, will not be the last. Love the laid back style and messages of his songs.

Eric Bibb, master bluesman

Love this album, like all of Eric Bibb’s music, it’s just classic blues music. But…. Do yourself a favour, if you can get to see Eric perform live, do it! He is in my opinion, the coolest man in the world! Awesome voice, masterful guitarist and a brilliant performer.


Born: August 16, 1951 in New York, NY

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Like Josh White, Jr. -- son of folksinger Josh White -- singer, songwriter, and guitarist Eric Bibb was raised in the folk tradition, the son of folksinger 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, and family friends in the '50s and '60s 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,...
Full Bio