Blues Guitarist-Singer Elvin Bishop

Elvin Bishop photo credit - Jen Taylor    Elvin Bishop
Red Dog Speaks
Release date: June 15th 2010
Red Dog Speaks - 2010
"Bishop is in good form - laid back,
having fun... playing his red guitar!"
(October, 2008) - Recording artist Elvin Bishop immersed himself in the blues at a young age - his latest CD, The Blues Rolls On is pure enjoyment.  Twelve retrospective tracks affirm a musician in touch with his roots and optimistic about blues' future.  Keen interplay between musicians and singers showcase Elvin's forty plus years of honest blues exploration.  The total package is a treat - extensive liner notes provide background on track selections, artist selection, even session notes.

For The Blues Rolls On, Elvin Bishop drives some old classics out of the garage - applies a fresh coat of paint - then invites a few friends to join him for a spin through blues country - a journey blues enthusiasts will want to take again and again.  The CD confesses Bishop's love for the genre by gathering together friends, new and old.  Zealous contributions from supporting artists provide additional depth and character to the whole.

The Blues Rolls On features fresh takes on classics like Yonder's Wall, featuring Ronnie Baker Brooks and Tommy Castro.  Conversation between B.B. King and Elvin introduces listeners to Oliver Perry's Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket.  Track 9 revisits Junior Wells' Come On In This House - Bishop's enthusiasm for genuine [grab you by the ears] blues is alive and well.  Lucky for us, Elvin enjoys sharing his enthusiasm with others - such as ourselves.

       - Mark D McKinley     [Mark's Online Music Source]

The Interview  Good afternoon!  I enjoyed the opportunity to review your soon to be released CD, The Blues Rolls On

Elvin Bishop:  Thank you - I hope you enjoyed it.  Before we talk about the new release, let's go retro for a moment - you set out on your own in 1959 wanting to experience blues music up close - at street level.  Tell me about the transition from a youth living on a farm in Iowa to your move to Chicago.

Elvin Bishop:  Well, when I was about 10 or 11 living on a farm in Iowa, my dad went to Oklahoma to get hay for our farm which was hard to come by in Iowa at the time, and [he] applied for a job in Tulsa.  We moved there shortly thereafter and I lived there until I graduated high school.  I loved the blues but couldn't do anything about it in Oklahoma while hanging out with white folks at that time of segregation.

When I moved to Chicago, I was able to get to the south-side ghetto and hang out with the boys who showed me how to get the ball rolling in the blues.  I visited Hyde Park and the University of Chicago a few years ago - what was the vibe like around Hyde Park in '59?

Elvin Bishop:  Well, it was actually in 1960 when I got there, but it was sort of socially ahead of its time.  It was an integrated spot  - a hot bed of integration.  It was a perfect setting and I got lucky there.  This was like 5 or 6 years before civil rights got goin' so it was really cool to be in the thick of this area at that time and place  - ya know?  I can relate somewhat - being fortunate to have grown up in the fifties and sixties in a household where the only face my dad ever saw was that of a human being - color of the skin was never an issue.  Recalling your days in the early 60's as a member of the legendary Paul Butterfield Blues Band, share an experience during your years with the band that's had a lasting impression.

Elvin Bishop: The whole thing was a great blessing and the best place I could've been at the time.  The whole part of being in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band was to me, a great apprenticeship, because at that time in Chicago, the clubs were opened until 4AM during the week, and until 5AM on Saturdays - so you played 45 minutes, doing six sets every night!  We would play 45 minutes, have a 15 minute break, and repeat that five or six times each evening.

We played at a club called Big Johns at the time.  Two years of that - if you're ever going to shape up - that's gonna do it.  It was also a great place to be in respect to musicians in the band were so strong that Butterfield had a great attitude towards performing - he wouldn't take no for an answer and always got a great response from the people, so that was good education in respect of itself.  We each gain something from a project close to our heart - what did you take away from your days with the Butterfield band when you went out on your own?

Elvin Bishop: I gained a high musical standard, or a high standard of musicianship, and an understanding of the need to bring intensity to the music every night at every show.  Let's continue forward to 1976 - "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" hit the airwaves and mainstream listeners were hooked. Your incisive guitar licks and Mickey Thomas' smooth vocals took the song to No. 3 on the charts - how long had you and Thomas worked together prior to '76 and how did you and Mickey Thomas first meet?

Elvin Bishop:  Mickey had been with our band for about 2 years.  A friend of mine - a gospel rock performer named Gideon found Mickey in Cairo, GA.   And when I first heard him - he was singing in Gideon's group in San Francisco.  Your newest project, "The Blues Rolls On" is scheduled for release on September 23, 2008.  After repeated listening sessions of a promo copy, this CD is another personal project for you, unleashing honest reflections of a prolific musician that appreciates his past, lives in the present, and embraces the future of blues music.  What thoughts would you like to share that aren't expressed on any of the tracks?

Elvin Bishop:  You said it so well that I thank you and am knocked out by your analysis - you said it best - I am speechless and have nothing to add.  How did you meet the young Mississippi band, Homemade Jamz?

Elvin Bishop:  I met Homemade Jamz when I was traveling to appear on the legendary blues cruise in 2007 - we were actually on the bus to the cruise port from the airport and they sat across the aisle from me.  A nine year old girl sat next to me and little did I know she was the drummer.  I started talking to her dad and figured she was one of the performers' children.  Turns out, the other way around - she was the performer!  What went into your decision to have Homemade Jamz back you on the Junior Wells' tune, "Come On In This House" ?

Elvin Bishop:  I got to talking to the father - very nice man.  Mr. Perry.  I mentioned to him that I had played with Junior Wells in the early 1960's.  He then said they did a great version of this song and we decided to write it up.  Perfect example of the blues from generation to generation to generation.  You revisited your seventies hit, "Struttin' My Stuff" ... tell me about that recording session.

Elvin Bishop:  Well, I got my band from the 70's together and we cut the track at my house, and I sang it, and then Warren Haynes came over after his day at the Fillmore, and then I sent the track to Jacksonville, Florida to Derek Trucks. Derek put his part on it and then I sent it back immediately with a bill for $40 for studio time and I think all those guys did a great job.  The reason I asked those guys to do this tune is because I sat in with the Allman Brothers in NY a few years ago and Warren had mentioned he played this song when he was 16 and I thought this was another good example of blues generations live on and on and take from their elders for inspiration and homage.  Quoting the old saying, "the more things change, the more they stay the same" ... here it is 2008 - what advice can you give to a young person that's hooked on something stored in his iPod and wants to become a musician?

Elvin Bishop:  Just go for it - don't let people discourage you!  Believe in your talent and let the world see what you have in you.  The days of the brick and mortar record shops are virtually gone - how has that affected your approach to music?

Elvin Bishop: Since every development of the recording industry, both socially and musically, that has occurred has been a surprise to me over the years - I don't worry about any of that, frankly.  I am concerned of the loss of record stores in general.  I'm not a fan of CD sound quality, but overall, I try and go with the flow.  What's next for Elvin Bishop?

Elvin Bishop:  I'm working on some tunes now for the next CD.  Thanks for the opportunity to explore your career on a more personal level - all the best to you and "The Blues Rolls On!" Nice work, man ... I do recommend this CD!

Elvin Bishop: That's very nice of you, and I really appreciate it.  Thanks again.

(C) 2008 Mark's Online Music Source

Red Dog Speaks 2010       The Blues Rolls On 2008


Mark's Online Music Source

Website Design by Mark McKinley       Logos (C) 1999-2018