My thoughts go out to the people of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh as they mourn the senseless and hateful act of violence in their midst. I think I can speak for the blues community when I say that we share your grief and stand next to you arm in arm in the battle against bigotry and hate.
With that stated, I move on to quick reviews of some albums I have listened to recently.
Eric Bibb – Global Griot (Stony Plain Records, 2018)
The term griot (gree-oh) refers to a class of traditional West African musicians and storytellers that carried on the oral traditions of their people. Eric Bibb certainly merits inclusion given his roots and his artistry on the acoustic and electric guitars and his easy story telling voice. Reflecting a truly global perspective with recordings for the album done in France, Sweden, Jamaica, Ghana, England, and the United States, this two CD set was an enjoyable listen.
I particularly liked Gathering of the Tribes, All Because, Grateful, Remember Family, and Race & Equality. And the song, Michael…Row Da Boat Ashore, brought back memories of long road trips with my parents and five kids in a Chevy station wagon. My mother would lead us in singing old gospel and traditional tunes. I thank Eric for reawakening memories that bring both sadness and joy; it is the truly the power of music in the fingers and voice of a master!
John Akapo – Paradise Blues (Mensch House Records, 2018)
Hawaiian born and Samoan blooded, Big John Akapo is a talented acoustic guitarist with the perfect voice for the style of delta and mellow blues that he plays on his debut recording, Paradise Blues. I loved his renditions of the blues classics, I Can’t Be Satisfied, and Ramblin’ On My Mind. I also enjoyed his original songs Little Lani, Don’t Believe Her, and Maui Drive.
John has stated that “I think my music is like a tree rooted in traditional blues but sprinkled with Pacific salt water.” Here’s to hopin’ that the tree continues to flourish and that we hear much more from him as the years go by!
Anthony Geraci – Why Did You Have To Go (Shining Stone Records 2018)
Anthony Geraci is a gifted blues pianist His career spans over 40 years and he is an original member of both Sugar Ray and the Bluetones and Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters. His blues pedigree attracted the likes of Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray Norcia, Monster Mike Welch, Kid Ramos, Dennis Brennan, Jimi Bott, Sugaray Rayford, Willie J. Campbell, and Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson to contribute to his newest recording, Why Did You Have To Go.
The album features 13 all original tunes and showcases the blues, R&B, and even a bit of jazz. Though based in Massachusetts, he spent sometime in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the epicenter of the delta blues, as he wrote songs for the album and the influence shines through on the song, Baptized in the River Yazoo. My favorite on the album is the title cut, a great soulful R&B tune. I also loved Fly On the Wall, Don’t the Grass Look Greener, and the down the bayou feel of Long Way Home. And if all that wasn’t enough, the song My Last Good Bye is some great deep down grindin’ blues.
Overall, this is an joyous celebration of the blues….a worthy addition to my collection and hopefully yours!