Tommy Castro & Eric Bibb Reviews

July 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Here are a couple of gig reviews that we didn't have room for in the magazine:

Tommy Castro Band - Boom Boom Club, Sutton, 16/5/10 - by John Mitchell

Fresh from his four awards at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis the previous week - Band of the Year, B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year, Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year, Contemporary Blues Male Artist Of The Year - Tommy Castro and his outstanding band were undertaking their first club tour of the UK and we were fortunate indeed to see them in Sutton at short notice following the rescheduling of their gig in Exeter - tough luck for fans in the SW but good news for us!

After a short warm-up slot from local band Money Maker, Tommy hit the stage running with the stomping Make It Back To Memphis from the new Alligator CD Hard Believer, a certain crowd pleaser and a great intro for those who had not had the chance to see the TCB before.  The new CD obviously provided a strong focus for the set, with five tunes played, including a lengthy rendition of Backup Plan, the song Tommy co-wrote with Rick Estrin of the Nightcats for the album.

As Tommy said from the stage, he has a large selection of songs and only limited time, but he sensibly included material from across his career, including Nasty Habits and Can’t Keep a Good Man Down from his early Blind Pig CDs, Wake Up Call from 2005’s Soul Shaker and It’s That Time Again from 2007’s Painkiller.

A cover of Serves You Right to Suffer closed the first set and gave Tommy the chance to solo at length while the band took a breather.  Similarly in the second set there were extended solos from all the band, greeted with resounding applause from the audience who were thoroughly enjoying a totally professional performance from one of the world’s top bands.

In the second set an additional amp was found so that Otis Grand could guest on two tunes, notably Sweet Little Angel which afforded an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast the two guitarists in action. Otis with a red Gibson sounding like a young BB King and Tommy coaxing beautifully crafted solos from his Strat.

Mention must be made of the excellent TCB: longtime sax player Keith Crossan, trumpet Tom Poole, keys Tony Stead, drums Ronnie Smith and bass, hats and amazing shoes, Scot Sutherland.  Ronnie also contributed a lot of backing vocals and took the lead on Allan Toussaint’s Victims of the Darkness.

Tommy stated that he plans to be back in the UK before too long and we can only hope that it’s soon.  A great gig from a wonderful band.

Eric Bibb - Huntingdon Hall, Worcester 20/5/10 - by John Phillpott

The originators of the country blues have long gone yet there is no shortage of imitators on this side of the Pond.

Agreed, some are average, a few are very good indeed. Yet the fact remains that riding a freight train to Sidcup somehow doesn’t quite hit the spot… it takes a real, live American to really convey the power of the music that burst forth from the deprivation of the Mississippi delta.

Eric Bibb is therefore your man. To be sure, he looks the part – bluesman’s hat pulled low, rich Kentucky tones that appear to have been marinaded in bourbon and endless packs of Lucky Strikes.

But the fact that he has experienced the places he so eloquently sings about sets him apart from all those Johnny-come-latelys of the acoustic blues world.

His great aunt told him about the great flood of 1927 so he sings about it with a rare authority. A stranger showed him the late great Booker White’s guitar, so that becomes the basis for a song as well.

And Walkin’ Blues is given fresh impetus by this young pretender to the throne in a revitalised interpretation that stays true to the original while conveying a much more modern feel.

Eric Bibb is a rarity among singers because he seems to be always trying to throw the music forward, rather than just settling for what has gone before.

It would be so easy to trade off the past, to present everything as exhibits in a museum. The fact that Eric Bibb avoids this obvious cliché makes him all the more interesting.

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