The evening concert at Jnan Sbil Gardens featured blues legend, Eric Bibb and played before a large and enthusiastic crowd. Despite the overwhelmingly Anglophone audience, the introduction was in French, in which language Bibb, dressed in his trademark hat, fawn jacket and orange T-shirt, kindly responded before switching to English for the rest of the evening
The opening number, The Needed Time, was a perfect start to a balmy, 28 degree Celsius, evening in a garden setting.
Accompanied by Michael Jerome Brown (banjo and guitar), Bibb soon had the audience in the palm of his hand. The stage, set against the backdrop of the lake, added to the enchantment. The concert had thankfully been switched from the Fes Prefecture Hall, whose acoustic failings had been an unfortunate feature of some previous festivals.
The set that followed comprised some of his better known songs and some new work. Picking up the tempo New Home followed and had the audience clapping along.
Bibb introduced Silver Spoon as "my song"about his moving from America to Sweden. Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, was again uptempo. Then for With My Maker I Am One, Michael Jerome Brown switched to slide guitar and joined in the chorus.
Bibb has the perfect combo of skills: a true (slightly husky) blues voice and great guitar skills. His humble demeanour and shrugging off of stardom is not affected and is endearing. He is a man with a sense of the universal sacred and many of the songs, such as We Are All Connected, brought this to the fore.
A new song, written about his first trip to West Africa, had a naive, almost childlike quality. Dedicated to Bibb's musician friend, Habib Koité, On My Way to Bamako was charming.
Other favourites followed: Lead Belly's Bring a Little Water Sylvie, With a Dollar in My Pocket and Morning Train.
Bibb then announced a new album entitled Migration Blues, recorded with Michael Jerome Browne, J.J. Milteau, Olle Linder, Big Daddy Wilson and his wife, Ulrika Bibb. Eric Bibb says in the sleeve note to Migration Blues, his most politicised album to date: "The way I see it, prejudice towards our brothers and sisters who are currently called 'refugees' is the problem. Fear and ignorance are the problems. Refugees are not 'problems'— they are courageous fellow human beings escaping dire circumstances."
|Michael Jerome Brown|
Then it was time for some Georgia blues from Michael Jerome Brown with a song by Blind Willie McTell, which showed him to be an accomplished musician in his own right.
Bibb closed out the concert after a couple more songs, but the audience was not ready to let him go, giving him a standing ovation and drawing a reprise of On My Way to Bamako, followed by Mole in the Ground, and finally an audience singalong of his opening number, The Needed Time.
It was a perfect evening and a splendid concert in the right venue.
Photographs: Suzanna Clarke
Review: Sandy McCutcheon