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Troubadour Live

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Album Review

Eric Bibb's version of the blues has always been patient and positive, and it serves as a reminder that the blues isn't necessarily always about despair, darkness, and ominous guitar riffs, but is also built on the concept of survival and moving forward, on the idea of getting through tough times and reaching brighter days. In Bibb's hands, the blues becomes sustaining, moving closer to the spiritual uplift of gospel, and the often shaky division between Saturday night blues and Sunday morning praise drops away with this man. Bibb isn't haunted by personal demons as much as he is by cultural ones. He doesn't have a hellhound on his trail, and he isn't about to go down to the crossroads and make deals with the Devil. His 21st century version of the folk-blues isn't about that kind of stuff. It's about healing. A voice of temperate reason and unyielding hope in the dawning of better days is welcome in any musical style and in any era, and Bibb continues down that path with his latest release, Troubadour Live, recorded at a December 9, 2010 concert in Stockholm, Sweden, and featuring guest electric guitarist Staffan Astner. Astner's astounding tone and sharp efficiency on guitar dovetails neatly with Bibb's own accomplished and full-sounding acoustic guitar playing, and it’s obvious that the two guitarists enjoy working together. There’s an intimate feel to this set, which illustrates Bibb's presence and vitality as a live performer. Highlights include the majestic opener “The Cape,” a Guy Clark/Susanna Clark/Jim Janosky composition, the country blues boogie shuffle “New Home” (complete with an absolutely burning guitar lead from Astner), and the pop soul of “For You,” which features the gospel trio Psalm4 (Glen Scott, Andre De Lange, and Paris Renita), and shows that Bibb is quite comfortable outside of the blues medium. As an added bonus, a couple of studio tracks (“Put Your Love First,” a duet with Troy Cassar-Daley, and “If You Were Not My Woman”) are tacked on at the end of this charming, pleasant, and wonderfully intimate live album.

Biography

Born: 16 August 1951 in New York, NY

Genre: Blues

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

Like Josh White, Jr. — son of folk singer Josh White — singer, songwriter, and guitarist Eric Bibb was raised in the folk tradition, the son of 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, 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...
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