Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Fes Festival Highlights #1 - Eric Bibb

The 23rd Fes Festival of World Sacred Music takes place  between the 12th and 20th of May. This year's programme has been welcomed by festival regulars as one of the best! Today we turn the spotlight on one of the expected highlights - Eric Bibb

A career spanning five decades, 36 albums, countless radio & television shows and non-stop touring has made Eric Bibb one of the leading bluesmen of his generation. A Progressive preservationist, a fiery singer with true soul, gospel and folk roots, enjoyable and accessible, his blues are honest and powerful. One critic wrote: “He has all the ingredients for stardom – handsome good looks, a voice as strong and soulful as they come, the guitar chops to hold his own against the best and he writes compelling, sensitive songs. His blues are clean, beautifully sung, soulful and upbeat”. The weekly syndicated American program “House of Blues Radio Hour” host Elwood Blues (a.k.a. Dan Aykroyd) once declared to Eric: “You are what the blues in the new century should be about.”

Eric Bibb was born in 1951 into a musical family. His father, Leon, was a musical theatre singer, who made a name for himself as part of the 1960s New York folk scene; his uncle was the jazz pianist and composer John Lewis, of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Family friends included Pete Seeger, and actor/singer/activist Paul Robeson, Bibb's godfather, is an American-born acoustic blues singer-songwriter.

Eric was given his first steel-string acoustic guitar aged seven. Growing up surrounded by talent, he recalls a childhood conversation with Bob Dylan, who, on the subject of guitar playing, advised the 11-year-old Bibb to "Keep it simple, forget all that fancy stuff"

When he turned 16 his father invited him to play guitar in the house band for his TV talent show "Someone New". Bill Lee, who played bass in this band, was later to appear on Bibb's albums Me To You and Friends. In 1969, Bibb played guitar for the Negro Ensemble Company at St. Mark's Place in New York. He went on to study Psychology and Russian at Columbia University, but did not finish these studies. The next year, aged 19, he left for Paris, where he met guitarist Mickey Baker who focused his interest in blues guitar.

Bibb moved to Stockholm, where he immersed himself in pre-war blues and the newly discovered world music scene, while he continued to write and perform. Good Stuff was released in 1997 on Opus 3 and American label Earthbeat.  Bibb signed to the British-based Code Blue label, but only released one album, Me to You, featuring appearances from some of Bibb's personal heroes, Pops and Mavis Staples, and Taj Mahal. This was followed by tours of the UK, US, Canada, France, Sweden and Germany.

In the late 1990s Bibb joined forces with his then manager Alan Robinson to form Manhaton Records in Britain. The albums Home to Me (1999), Roadworks (2000) and Painting Signs (2001) followed, as did the 2005 releases for Opus 3, Just Like Love and Spirit & the Blues (Hybrid SACD of 1999 Earthbeat release).

Eric made A Family Affair (2002) with his father, Leon Bibb. This was followed by Natural Light then Friends – 15 tracks featuring Bibb duetting with friends and musicians he had met on his travels such as Taj Mahal, Odetta, Charlie Musselwhite, Guy Davis, Mamadou Diabate and Djelimady Toukara.In 2004, Eric Bibb released Friends as his debut release under Telarc International Corporation.

Bibb remained with Telarc Records from 2004 until 2011, releasing several additional albums including, A Ship Called Love in 2005, Diamond Days in 2007, and Spirit I Am in 2008. Bibb released Booker's Guitar in January 2010 with music channeled from the Delta Guitar Master himself, Booker White, also known as Bukka White. In November 2011, he signed to Stony Plain Records.

In August 2011 he married his longtime partner and manager Sari Matinlassi-Bibb, whom he met while touring in Australia. Eric currently resides in Helsinki, Finland.

Eric Bibb's Fes Festival concert will be at 8.30pm on May 15th at the Prefecture Hall in Batha . Tickets are now on sale on the Fes Festival site HERE

See Fez Festival Highlight #2 here

The View From Fez is a Fes Festival Media Partner


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