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Elvin Bishop - The Blues Rolls On

Elvin Bishop’s “The Blues Rolls On” is a well crafted CD by a guitarist/singer/songwriter with solid credentials and a long legacy of great blues. Elvin’s professionalism and good natured personality is evident in the music and liner notes on this CD. He’s assembled a tremendous line up of guest stars and gives them room to shine: BB King, James Cotton, Kim Wilson, George Thorogood, Angela Strehli and many more.

The music is a comfortable blend of blues styles, without being overly produced or contrived. The 12 cuts on this CD flow and each one showcases a different musical influence from Elvin’s 40-plus year career. John Nemeth and Angela Strehli nail Ray Charles’ 50’s hit “The Night Time is the Right Time.” Ronnie Baker Brooks has just the right vocal inflections and tasteful guitar riffs with Blues Cruise musician Tommy Castro on “Yonder’s Wall.” Remember that song from Elvin’s stint with Paul Butterfield in the 60’s? Besides Elvin’s Chicago blues roots, we’re reminded of his 70’s adventures with a fun new version of Struttin’ My Stuff. Elvin’s time in the South is included with a Clifton Chenier Zydeco song: “Black Gal” featuring Andre Thierry on accordion and RC Carrier on vocals. Listen for the comment about Charlie Daniels on “Oklahoma.”

You’ll hear excellent guitar performed by Elvin and his pals; Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Ronnie, Tommy Castro, BB King, as well as some not-so-famous, but seasoned veterans like Mike Schermer. The newly discovered Clarksville “Homemade Jamz band” features 9 year old Taya Perry on drums. They cook on a Jr Wells tune. Every rhythm section on the CD incorporates an energetic blues feeling, without resorting to hard rock, or overly mixed kick and tom tom sounds. Production is very good, musical and well balanced. Horns and harmonica provide lively background and solos, without being overly bright or harsh. (Did I mention James Cotton and Kim Wilson?)!

Three unexpected highlights are: the solo slide-guitar autobiographical foot-stomper “Oklahoma,” a brief behind-the scenes interview with BB King, and a tribute inspired by listening to Jimmy Reed on KLAC as the tubes in his 1950’s radio glowed late at night.

The anecdotes on the CD provide interesting reading. I didn’t know Elvin jammed with the Allman Brothers at the Fillmore! The music backs up his “been there, done that” career in a very accessible, affable manner. For lovers of contemporary blues with an interest in post-war and 60’s blues, this CD bridges past and future blues and is a welcome addition to your library.

Reviewer Bill Porter fronts the Bill Porter Project and also performs with Fishbone Willie.

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