Eric Bibb is a master of the fusion between Blues, folk and gospel music. His warm, cultured voice and considerable skill as a Piedmont style picker show how the older forms of Blues music can be renewed and refreshed to give us incisive and relevant music for today. From his early appearances on the Greenwich Village folk scene to the world stage, through a recording career that has produced getting on for 40 albums, Eric has written a long succession of moving, heartfelt songs, which he intersperses in concerts and recordings with his sensitive interpretations of the classics.
Born in New York in 1951, the son of respected folk artist Leon Bibb and Godson of Paul Robeson, Eric grew up in a household where Bob Dylan, Odetta, Judy Collins and Pete Seeger were real characters rather than faces on album covers. He preferred going to rehearsals with his father rather than going to school, and it seems Leon agreed that his teenage son’s education would be best served in the studio. Eric was given a guitar when he was seven, and by the time he was 16, his father invited him to join the house-band for the TV talent show he was hosting. Having enrolled into Columbia University to study psychology, Eric left after a year to live in Paris. There he met guitarist Mickey Baker, who had lived in France for ten years and, as a result of their conversations, Eric decided to concentrate on playing Blues guitar on the European club scene.
Eric’s great Gospel voice on ‘In My Father’s House’;
Eric eventually settled in Stockholm, Sweden, where the he compared the cosmopolitan society to the old days in Greenwich Village. “There was a budding World Music scene going on before it became a marketing concept!” Eric’s career breakthrough came in Britain, with appearances at the long-established Cambridge Folk Festival and in London and Dublin, sometimes accompanied by National Steel slide player Goran Wennerbrandt. After ten albums of collaborations, his solo debut ‘Good Stuff’ was issued in 1997, with a mixture of Eric’s own folk and Blues compositions, and on his follow up he was joined by Pops and Mavis Staples and Taj Mahal. Eric formed Manhaton Records with his manager Alan Robinson, which was the conduit for his next few releases, each dominated by Eric’s own reflective and socially aware material. In 2002 he cut the ‘Family Affair’ album with his Dad, Leon, and the ‘Friends’ album two years later included contributions from musicians as diverse as Odetta, Charlie Musselwhite, Mamadou Diabate and Guy Davis.
Eric plays the title track from ‘Booker’s Guitar’;
Eric Bibb is no ‘overnight sensation’. His career has been slow growing, but his roots are deep, his cover is wide and his music is strong evidence that the Blues is thriving . Eric’s modest philosophy is shown in this ‘Old Song’ from Africa that appears in the notes to one of his albums.
Do not seek too much fame: but do not seek obscurity.
Be proud: but do not remind the world of your deeds.
Excell when you must: but do not excell the world.
Many heroes are not yet born: many have already died.
To be alive to hear this song is a Victory.