Richard Lutz grabs a pew for a master of American music
Eric Bibb has been taking the stage with his suitcase of Americana for a good 40 years now.
And last night he filled the Town Hall in Birmingham with night of blues, gospel, West African rhythm and lord know what else from his endless catalogue to complete the city’s Imagined Isle folk festival.
His heritage is that of Keb Mo’, Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, a collector of what makes the US music world hum and change with its cooking pot of Irish folk, slave songs, church songs, cowboy music and Chicago soul. He would fit easily into any Transatlantic Sessions tour that continually seems to travel Britain.
For this tour, which continues for the rest of the month in the UK, he laid as a foundation his exploration of Leadbelly songs laced with his own work on civil rights, civil wrongs and his own Afro American past.
It was a skilful adept night with a a pocketful of world musicians to back him.
Bibb has a nice smokey mellow voice and a nice smokey mellow persona that allows you to sit back and enjoy the night as he moves from one genre to another. It is an act to take in if you enjoy how music blends to create new genres as he moves from a Scottish folk song to an Appalachian mountain song to a gospel classic.
Opening the performance was his daughter Yana Bibb, a solo singer with a basket of songs from Sarah Vaughan’s wistful Black Coffee to the Beatles love ballad I Will to her own songs.The whole evening worked with no histrionics, no long half baked lectures, no endless anecdotes though Bibb himself learned at the knee of early Dylan, his uncle (jazz pianist John Lewis) and a queue of blues stars from the South.