Friday, September 21, 2012

Delta Groove artist: Elvin Bishop - That's My Thing DVD - New Release Review

First I've got to say...WOW!! I love Elvin Bishop and I am thrilled that he has been captured in concert. I've been a Bishop fan for more years than you can imagine and although I love his CD's the man just is a great performer! There is a sincerity and lack of pretentiousness that Bishop just brings along with him and a man with his credentials... it just makes me proud to be one of his greatest fans. I have traveled to both coasts to festivals based upon whether he was playing or not (other performers were icing but Bishop was the incentive). Now on with the show.I have the to be released DVD (available October 16, 2012) and let me tell you what's up!  Bishop opens with That's My Thing, a simple country blues romp with Crabshaw on old Red Dog and there aren't too many guitars in the world that I'd prefer to have. This guitar not only has provenance, it has character! It has tone! This guitar has seen stuff that blues fans only dream about! And here Elvin has it in a club and it sounds great! I also think Ed Earley is a great contributor with his perfect tone on trombone. Like Miles, his tone is his own and he fits Bishop like a glove. Next up is My Dog, a personal favorite and one that has personal feelings for me having lost my own personal companion "Wood" last week. Bob Welsh plays a smokin' guitar solo on this track and Bishop kills it on the end. He gets the crowd a howlin' and barkin' and having fun is what this is all about. There is one thing that is particularly cool about listening to such a variety of music (like I do) and that's that you really get to see what's different and what's all the same. Bishop has his own style and he is tremendously inspiring. Gettin' My Groove Back finds Bobby Cochran (drums) on sweet lead vocals and the band gets a Louisiana blues going with S.E. Willis on accordion coming through. Again Welsh plays an inspired solo and Bishop is sitting with Red Dog in his Over Hauls (Bib Overalls)and boots just rippin' out the tone. Next up is Bishop playing slide on Mellow-D. This is played on a more modern 345 and although it doesn't have the guts of Red Dog, I love Bishops tone on slide. His early tracks from the late 60's and 70's are definitely worth searching out. After a nice solo from Welsh, Bishop plays some first position slide work on the 5th and 6th string. That is the guts of the guitar ...then moving to the upper octave for the glory. Sweet. Next up is What The Hell Is Going On, with Elvin back with classic vocals. Elvin's voice is a perfect match for Red Dog's bark and this is a great track to illustrate that. Before I forget I want to mention Ruth Davies who holds down the bottom really tight on an electric upright. Welsh pushes Crabshaw with fine riffs on what looks to be a 60's sg with a Bigsby. Great clean (compared to Bishop) tone. Digging back into the 70's Bishop pulls out Arkansas Line and gives it a real Tex Mex sound (with a touch of New Orleans). This was a great track on Juke Joint Jump and now sounds fresh as ever with a new slant. It's really cool that Elvin plays Red Dog most of this concert cause the dog really likes to sing.
Pic by Bill Horton
This is pure music. It's really great seeing this in my own living room at my leisure (and permanent). Got To Be New Orleans is a great funk track with Crabshaw leading the way. This track should show up on Treme (hint guys). If you haven't seen Treme and you love new Orleans music, it's a must! This track is really loose and and the vocals just gotta make you smile. Welsh flashes some funky riffs on a white tele to punch up the belly of the song but this track is really about the slack! Another great 70's track, Travelin' Shoes is up next. One of my best friends in college actually turned me on to Elvin Bishop. He was a football player from Mississippi (Ernie Webster)and he was known as the Big E. He had the logo from JJJ painted on the front of his hippie van. This track sounds great and Willis does a nice job on keys. Elvin has altered the word to this tune a few times to describe the "a-whoppin" he was gonna lay on somebody head. Welsh rips out a great solo on this track and Elvin gets the dog barking in tandem. Great music! Elvin asks the crowd if they're having a good time... and he means it! Next up is Fishin' which is really the track that brought Bishop out of the blues/r&b line and into his own unique style. He had some really great tracks that strayed on earlier albums but this track I think was the major departure to Elvin getting into his having fun openly. Watch clips of Bishop at the Fillmore and catch the chills run up your back. Bishop is like Picasso who can paint a perfect portrait but have found his own unique and extremely potent style. He pulls a fishin' pole guitar out for the punch line and fishes a blonde out of the audience to join in the party letting her strum the old dog. Stomp is a terrific slide instrumental from Rock My Soul and another that I'm glad to see him revisit! Stealin' Watermelons is a funky track from Let It Flow. Again back on the modern 345 Bishop sets a great stage for the band to play. Davies sets a solid bottom and Willis takes his turn on keys, Walsh on his tele and the heads are bobbin as the band sings. There is just great electricity produced by this band and Elvin chides them along! Breaking back to Rock My Soul, a great old R&B tune (from Rock My Soul) Elvin and gang get the grind. Cochran sings Jo Bakers part and although he isn't Baker, the voices (with Earley) sound great. the breakaway with Elvin, Welsh and Earley is terrific! On Calling All Cows  the tandem guitar work was always great and equally matched here with a dash of New Orleans. Bishop and Welsh each take riffs on slide. Bishop takes a walk through the crowd on El Bo and pulls out the old Chicago licks. This is a great track and giving Crabshaw the space to show what Red Dog can really do. Earley gets a nice run on the trombone and Welsh also plays a nice solo before joining with Bishop for some dueling guitar. Elvin grabs a great riff to finish the track. The band plays Booty Bumpin', an uptempo boogie giving Davies a brief bass solo and Elvin gives Red Dog a thumpin again. I hope that the audience appreciates what a tremendous treat they were witnessing 'cause I sure do. Party Till The Cows Come Home which I only remember in live form from the Fillmore release, has become one of Bishops trademark songs. Little Brown Bird has appeared on a few live recordings and Bishop always does a tremendous job. Not only does Bishop sing his guts out, he really kicks the crap out of the guitar on this track! I know that Bishop is all fun and games, but when the man stops to say something serious, people you need to listen. This is it!! Elvin wraps the set with Bishop's Boogie. Like any great entertainer you leave the crowd on an uptempo track and Elvin kicks it in gear for a terrific encore! The icing on this cake is Elvin Speaks, a frank discussion with Elvin in what appears to be his home studio. This is a really great one on one look at Elvin's exposure to the blues as a child, his first concert, life in Oklahoma in the 40's and 50's, his perceptions of music (he even uses the same expression that I do when I talk about "stale music" "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window!") at the time, his trip to Chicago; his trips to Maxwell street, and exposure to older blues players that we've mostly only seen faint films of. He also reminisced about his times with Smokey Smothers (if you haven't heard Smokey you must check him out!) and Paul Butterfield, his first real band mate. He talks about Bill Graham and his influence on the integration of all genres of music into the mainstream. He even does a little short on Red Dog for guitar heads like me and talks Fishin! He takes a walk through his small garden and shows his real life. He talks about getting Mickey Thomas on his big hit and why. The grits and gravy is when he talks about his take on playing blues...he hits it square on the head. Enjoy this unique video of one of the great blues entertainers of our time. If you like what I’m doing, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! - ”LIKE”

 This is not from the film but representative of current work...enjoy!

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