“Sing Out” magazine review of Eric Bibb’s “Troubadour Live”
Eric told me “I grew up reading Sing Out magazine ( age 9), this really put a smile on my face.
So few live albums stand out as definitive works – especially acoustic ones. Bibb, so clearly at home on-stage, has delivered a near-masterpiece with Troubadour Live. To see Bibb in concert is to realize what a truly joy-filled individual he is and this zest for life affects each and every audience member. His material is beyond traditional singer-songwriter fare – always a unique guitar hook paired with intelligent lyrics, a boisterously soulful voice and a near-preacher command of a stage. You don’t just listen at an Eric Bibb show – you become converted as he shares deep-rooted feelings in each of his works. On this occasion, playing in one of his favorite bars in Uppsala, Sweden, Bibb surrounds himself with the guitar prowess of friend, Staffan Astner and blends in members of Psalm4 (Glenn Scott, Paris Renita, André De Lange) along the way. Beginning with a powerful solo number in Guy Clark’s “The Cape”, the balance of the material is all-Bibb. He not only writes powerful, uplifting songs – he sings them with absolute conviction, communicating with an energy akin to spirituality. He rarely requires a second guitarist given his own skills but, on this occasion, Astner’ s electric invigorates Bibb even further, adding a further dimension to the sound. You can hear Bibb respond, on occasion, as his fellow players take his compositions even higher – moved by the realization that they’ve, together, surpassed his own expectations. Bibb’s own gleeful grunt after a particularly scorching solo by Astner on “New Home”, the song approaching a full revival, sends out a universal shiver. The song, “Connected”, is difficult to prepare for as the combination of Bibb, Astner and the gentle keyboard touch of Scott proves spellbinding – a pin could drop. At this point, the mood of the record heads toward the church (with “New World Coming Through” and “Thanks for the Joy”), Psalm4’s vocals pushing the envelope, as Astner turns in some sinuous, Cooder-esque leads. The gospel-pop of the beautiful “For You” features the beautiful voice of Paris Renita. Suddenly, the mood is broken by the addition of two studio ‘bonus’ tracks. The first, a lush duet with under-appreciated Aussie, Troy Cassar-Daley (a dead ringer here for James Taylor) and the second, a slightly Calypso-sounding “If You Were Not My Woman”, are both instant Bibb classics – they just feel somewhat shoe-horned into the proceedings, given the lovely live experience that came before. The live vibe is superb and the addition of these songs is far from off-putting, however.
– Eric Thom
Just thought you’d like to see a pic of the Seared Salmon on pasta (with broccoli, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes) we served when Eric, Sari, Staffan, Steve and Mizue came to our home to dinner last month. Boy, was it only last month?? It seems like much longer!
Of course, there is a secret ingredient (or two!)
Enjoyed having a chat with Renee from “The Blackbirds”, who are opening for Eric Bibb & Staffan Astner on their Australian tour, at Lizottes Dee Why last Thursday. Catch them if you can!
About “The Blackbirds”
From the colourful streets of Byron Bay, Blackbirds brings an eloquence and simple elegance to sound which is most likened to a harmonic bath of honey. Guitar, ukulele, male and female vocal harmonies and percussion all combine to create a beautiful Blackbirds sound. Blackbirds guitarist Adi grew up in Lombok, Indonesia, playing pots and pans and anything that would make a sound. Playing the nylon string guitar like it’s 3 instruments, he lays down thick and juicy baselines beneath his guitar lines, and incorporates a percussive element. Benhur, also from Indonesia, has a passion for ukulele that lines the music with twinkles of magic, his vocal range comfortably harmonising in his falsetto and crooning with his lower range. The stunning Mama Renee is of Jamaican (African) descent and has a thick warm tone that soothes the soul and resonates in perfect harmony with her ‘brotha to anotha motha’ Benhur. Renee is currently featured as a backing vocalist on the latest albums of Xavier Rudd, Raz Bin Sam and Afro Dizzy Act. Blackbirds music is about making an intimate connection with everyone in their company.
Another great dinner at our house last night with special guests, our friends Eric Bibb & his partner Sari, along with new friend Staffan Astner, plus Steve Clisby and Mizue Funakoshi. Appetizer of Japanese style pickled fried fish (thanks Mizue), Entree of Fijian style mainiated raw fish, pasta with broccoli, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and pan fried Tasmanian altantic salmon and ending with Indian style rice pudding with spices, sultanas and slivered almonds.
Island Shirts Rule!
Steve, Robert, Eric and Staffan
NEW ALBUM FROM AUSTRALIA’S FAVOURITE AMERICAN FOLK-BLUES SINGER-SONGWRITER
Troubadour Live set for release April 1 – the very day Eric Bibb begins his latest Australian tour
FEATURES BONUS STUDIO DUET – AND FIRST SINGLE – ‘PUT YOUR LOVE FIRST’ WITH FRIEND & FAN TROY CASSAR-DALEY
For four decades, singer-songwriter-guitarist Eric Bibb has criss-crossed the globe, captivating live audiences by bearing witness to the infinite complexities of the human experience – both the mundane and the spiritual – with music that’s steeped in the tradition of American blues and layered with generous shades of folk and gospel. He is, in every respect, a modern-day troubadour – heir to the legacy of Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Odetta and countless other great voices of the early and mid-20th century.
In the follow-up to the internationally acclaimed Booker’s Guitar, Bibb’s new recording, Troubadour Live, captures one of those powerful live performances in an intimate but emotionally charged setting. Recorded in December 2010 at Katalin and All That Jazz in Uppsala, Sweden (about 50 miles north of Stockholm).
“A live record is a way to give people a sense of the way an artist communicates with his or her audience,” says Bibb. “I think this record does that. It’s intimate, and that’s a big part of what I like to do. I play in front of larger crowds sometimes, but I think my forte is being able to get close to an audience on a given evening and deliver a message that they can take with them after they leave. I think Troubadour Live captures that moment of connection.”
In addition to the live material, Troubadour Live also includes two bonus tracks crafted in the studio. One is “Put Your Love First”, a country-flavored vocal duet that Bibb co-wrote and recorded with Australian friend and fan Troy Cassar-Daley (most awarded recipient of the Male Artist of the Year in Golden Guitar history).
After a 2 year break Eric Bibb (http://ericbibb.com) has returned to Australia. Robert & I are always happy to see Eric back on our shores. Another opportunity to keep in touch and have a great meal. Dinner with Eric, Sari, Staffan Astner, Steve Clisby(http://miracle8.com/) and Mizue Funakoshi (http://www.redzart.com/) on April 14 consisted of dahl, Indian style fried fish, Fiji style fried fish in coconut sauce with cherry tomatoes, pumpkin curry, special rice, handmade roti and salad. Yumm!
We were again fortunate to see Eric perform @ the Enmore Theatre on 15 April. Parking was a nightmare!! We drove around for 45 minutes looking for somewhere to park. Finally found a spot in a dodgy lane with unclear parking signage – we took pics of the sign and car position before we left – just in case.
The Enmore Theatre cascaded (rather than plunged!) into darkness after the show. Power to the whole block shut down over a couple of minutes. Something to do do with the downpour of rain I guess. Lucky the gig was over. Eric was signing CD’s by torch and iPhone light!!
The small “after party” needed to me moved from the black depths of the Enmore backstage. We were lucky to find an interesting place to land – called El Cuervo Cantina @ 200 Enmore Road on the lucky side of the power outage. We were entertained by Justo Diaz and Migul Guzman playing traditional Mexican/Spanish music on guitar and bongos and looked after by proprietor Abigail. Enjoyed their food and atmosphere. Check out http://www.elcuervocantina.com/