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Almost A Dirty Dozen with ERIC BIBB – September 2021

| 8 September 2021 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Eric Bibb has known many different Americas; the good, the bad and the ugly. Born in New York City in 1951, the thunderbolt of the Sixties folk revival remains so alive in the 69-year-old’s memory that he can still recall the idealism on the night air of Greenwich Village and picture Bob Dylan standing in his living room. Yet just as vivid are the dark societal flash points of the last year, when protesters highlighted the open wound of US race relations while a bitter Presidential election scrawled jagged battle lines. Fiercely literate and historically informed, Bibb is a global citizen whose US motherland – with all its pain and shame, hope and wonder – has bled into his art at every juncture since 1972’s debut album, Ain’t It Grand, announced him as a new force in blues, folk, and any other genre he cared to alight on. The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter has perhaps never addressed the United States – or shone a light on himself – with such focused eloquence as he does on Dear America.” We get Eric to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

My new album, Dear America, with ace producer Glen Scott, is a musical love letter to the country where I was born and raised. With a title like Dear America, considering the dramatic events of recent history, one might assume that this is some kind of “protest album”. This is not the case. Thematically, the songs cover subjects relating to our shared history and hopefully the listener will be inspired to look deeper into the causes of the conflicts and divisiveness plaguing not only the USA, but the world. My intention is that these songs, both musically and lyrically, will encourage fans and newcomers to engage in the uncomfortable conversations needed in order to move towards unity as a society. Like myself, any serious music-lover, previous fan or not, will discover many nuggets the more they listen to these tracks.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

My late father, Leon Bibb, was a wonderful singer. He acknowledged and nurtured my early passion for music, by taking me to his recording sessions and rehearsals and introducing me to great musicians. While I don’t recall a specific decision-making moment when I chose to be a musician, I never seriously considered any other path.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Far too many to list here! Here’s a few that were highly influential: Moanin’ At Midnight – Howlin’ Wolf, King Of The Delta Blues Singers – Robert Johnson, The Natch’l Blues – Taj Mahal, …and that’s just the Blues part of the pie!

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Leon Bibb, Lead Belly, Odetta, Taj Mahal, and Mavis Staples.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Mavis Staples – who I’ve already collaborated with on a song I recorded in 1997 with her dad, Pops Staples. Mavis’ approach to phrasing and delivering a message has been a big influence. I would love to bring what I’ve learned in the last 25 years to a new collaboration with her.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Describing music is to set foot on a slippery slope, for sure! However, how about this: “A singer-songwriter/guitarist, rooted in the rich traditions of American folk music – a bluesy troubadour.”

7. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

On Joe Bonamassa’s Mediterranean Blues Cruise when I first heard Eric Gales live. Another time was opening for George Benson at The Royal Albert Hall in London.

8. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Making music that opens my heart and the hearts of listeners at the same time. Experiencing this One-ness is divine. Teaching, especially young people, would be my dream job.

9. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’ve never really thought about that question. However, I’m always grateful when interviewers acknowledge the bigger picture and refer to the larger context to which my songs belong. I’m not really tired of any question, however superficial, because the interviewer is offering me an opportunity to share what I do and connect with fans, old and new.

10. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

To quote Rev. Dan Smith’s wonderful song: “I take every knock as a boost; Every stumblin’ block as a steppin’ stone; An’ just keep goin’ on…”

11. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would love to have been present when Robert Johnson recorded “Terra Plane Blues.” You could say that this song and the entire album it comes from was my baptism in the Holy River Of Blues.

ERIC BIBB LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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