ERIC BIBB WITH LINDA TILLERY
Saturday. January 28
Jack Singer Concert Hall
Eric Bibb is one of the doubtless thousands of musicians who could vie for the title of hardest working man in showbiz. Hes been bringing us old-fashioned, sweet acoustic blues that pay homage to the likes of Mississippi John Hurt and others for many years. But Bibb is in the mood for a little something different lately.
"I wouldnt necessarily say that my musical direction has shifted, lets just say Im happily finding more and more opportunities to share the breadth of my musical influences with my fans," says Bibb. "As much as I love Mississippi John Hurt, Im also a child of the 60s, and Curtis Mayfield has a hold on me, too, So the music will sound familiar, but its also new. Thats the thing that moves me the most in music something new that sounds familiar."
With his latest album, A Ship Called Love, Bibb is taking the opportunity to push the envelope, exploring the 60s R&B feel, although it certainly retains the inimitable Bibb stamp. Hes been looking for this change for awhile, although he approached the shift with caution.
"Ive had to bide my time a bit. Its important to appreciate ones fans, and if youre going to move in new directions, to do it gently. I need my fans. And an album that comes too much out of left field tends to leave reviewers and fans with a big question mark in their minds.
"Although its not the fans so much as the critics, honestly," he adds.
Whats that you say? A problem with music critics?
"It feels sometimes as though critics, in their zeal to be good writers, forget that what they write can have a significant impact on the life of hard-working artists. It takes a lot of work and money and courage to put an album out, and for an artist to have their work misunderstood and dissed
it sometimes seems unfair to me. Its easy to write a sharp, snide review, and then it affects somebodys life. Sometimes massively."
Bibb is relatively philosophical regarding music critics today, having just garnered a nearly worshipful review in the Brit music bible MOJO. Calgary music lovers will get the chance to hear Bibbs exemplary mixture of old and new, when he plays the Jack Singer on Saturday night with fellow musician Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir.
"Linda and the CHC are dear friends on a musical level and beyond," says Bibb. "We always look for opportunities to work together, although the complexities of touring schedules make it too rare. Hopefully well both reach the point in our careers where we can simply block out time to work together. But we havent reached that point yet, so a gig like this is, more than anything else, an opportunity of a few hours on each side of the gig to try some things together and to dream a little bit."
As for the future, Bibb has barely got A Ship Called Love in the can, and hes already seeing far pastures.
"Ive been lucky enough to establish a wonderful career in the acoustic blues field, and Im lucky to have found a niche. But I think its time to let people know that there are other elements of musical expression that are longing to come out of me."