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Elvin Bishop - That’s My Thing - Elvin Bishop – Live in Concert DVD
Delta Groove Music, Inc. and VenMundi
18 Songs - 96:00 minutes; Bonus material includes a definitive interview
Format: Anamorphic, Color, NTSC
Rating: Library Quality
Styles: Modern Electric Blues; Traditional Blues; Rock and Roll
Among contemporary Blues artists, there are some who are not only gifted musicians but also real characters. Two of the most colorful are Watermelon Slim and Elvin Bishop. The former released a DVD in 2010, and, in late 2012, Delta Groove Music, Incorporated, issued a simply wonderful DVD about the unpretentious, unaffected, and amiable Elvin Bishop. He’s a veteran guitar master, song writer, and band leader, and Elvin’s DVD is so good that it has been nominated for a 2013 “Best DVD for 2012” Blues Music Award. Both DVDs included bonus interviews that made the price tag seem insignificant, but especially this 22 minute definitive retrospective with Elvin Bishop.
Firstly, did you realize that a very young Elvin Bishop was one of the two guitar players in the original Paul Butterfield Blues Band (along with Mike Bloomfield)? Did you know that the late Paul Butterfield, a monster on harmonica, was first a guitar player? Did you know that when Butterfield picked up the harmonica, he got as great as he was in just six months? I learned an interesting variety of things from watching that interview in the DVD. Personally, I did not encounter Elvin Bishop until his mid-1970s Southern Rock days on Macon, Georgia’s Capricorn label, with the Allman Brothers Band. I had my trigger tripped by hearing Bishop’s “Travelin’ Shoes” on the radio and meeting him, with his Southern-Rocky clothes and cowboy hat, when he performed live in 1975 (or ‘76) in Springfield, Illinois at an Ice Hockey arena. Clearly having a ball playing his guitar and singing, Bishop paused between songs to lubricate his vocal chords with beer. After tilting the can all the way back and taking a long pull, Elvin flipped the can into the air backwards over his head; it spun through the air spraying the brew residue like a pinwheel. Coming to the mic, Elvin challenged, “If you kids want to get big and strong like your Uncle El, you just keep drinking that Budweiser!”
This DVD presents a memorable 2011 performance by Elvin Bishop (dressed this time in worn-comfortable denim overalls and plaid flannel shirt) and his road-tested touring band recorded live in front of a sold out crowd on December 17, 2011 at Club Fox in Redwood City, California. Bishop exuberantly “struts his stuff” while simultaneously coaxing his "Red Dog" to howl (aka his trusty cherry-red, 1959 Gibson ES-345 axe) on a selection of 18 glorious numbers including “Travelin' Shoes,” “Rock My Soul,” “Fishin',” “Stealin' Watermelons,” “Party 'Til The Cows Come Home,” “Little Brown Bird,” “Calling All Cows” and eleven more. In addition to Elvin Bishop (vocals & guitar), the all-star players are: Bob Welsh (guitar), S.E. Willis (keys & accordion), Ed Earley (trombone & percussion), Ruth Davies (bass), and Bobby Cochran (drums).
From deep down gut-bucket Blues to low-down New Orleans Funk to Southern Rock to fun Rock and Roll, all the songs are instilled with Bishop’s passion and creativity, and the evening’s set features a healthy helping of Elvin’s wisdom, wit and great “Okie” humor. In the mix are generous doses of Bishop’s picking and terrific slide guitar chops. Serving as the perfect second guitarist, Bob Welsh plays some slide himself, and check the dual harmony guitar licks Elvin and Bob display in “Travelin’ Shoes.”
As mentioned above, the DVD includes a bonus interview of Elvin Bishop taped at his Hog Heaven Studio. This is the best recorded interview of Elvin, tracing his life and career from the farms of Oklahoma, through his Blues apprenticeship in Chicago, to his breakout as a solo star (including his top ten hit “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” sung by Mickey Thomas), all the way to his present career. Elvin Bishop's music has been making people smile for over 50 years, and Elvin has performed and recorded with music legends such as B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and the Allman Brothers.
Overall, this show is incredibly fun, the musicians are all spot on experienced professionals, and the production and camera work are outstanding. Far from an aging, jaded and tired star going through the motions of another performance, Elvin Bishop is obviously in control and having a good time, and you can see the audience is, too. This DVD is a great addition to any Blues fan’s library.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL.