I have seen more than a few blues show this past year and most were "pretty" good, some were "very" good and a few were "outstanding." This was one of those memorable "outstanding" shows—both for its musicianship and also for the emotion it created. And I guess if you get right down to it, its the ability to create emotion—to move an audience—that ultimately counts.
Elvin had to overcome some personal tragedy this past year with the murders of his daughter and former wife and I guess his live shows are a good form of therapy for him. He has the ability to get totally involved in his performance—whether he is playing a wicked slide on his guitar, or mugging with his great facial expressions for the audience, or out doing his usual walk-about in the crowd while playing his guitar.
During two long sets at Brew Baker’s, Bishop along with one of the better bands I have seen him with in years, delivered his usual fare of humor, solid guitar, screaming slide and great expressions. He has that wild hair and expressive facial expressions that reminds me of a cross between Gene Wilder and Harpo Marx. He is just a hoot to watch!
Several band members also shared lead vocals with Elvin and the trombone player, Ed Earley, was phenomenal. Bishop also has his usual sit-down section of the show, reserved for "us old people," he quipped. However, with his excitable energy he was not able to sit for long and was back on his feet after one song. He also has a nostalgia section where he recalls some of the radio tunes of his youth. He played "In The Still of the Night," and we were in doo wop heaven! His humor was both in your face and subtle with his songs about getting old, dogs and fishing (about which he said, "all you need is a jerk on the end of the line").
Brew Baker’s sound system was excellent, the band was hot and the packed crowd ate it up. If you haven’t seen Elvin Bishop live, this is one show you definitely want to catch next time he is in town.
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