@ the Love Supreme Jazz Festival
6 July 2013
Click an image to enlarge.
Eric Bibb’s father, Leon Bibb, certainly helped his son dig
a little deeper. An acclaimed singer in stage musicals and a senior
figure on the New York folk scene of the 1960s, Leon gave his son
his first guitar when he was seven, and introduced him to a who’s-who
of musical icons. Bibb’s godfather was actor singer and activist
Paul Robeson; his uncle was jazz pianist and composer John Lewis.
Family friends included Odetta, Pete Seeger and Josh White.
A professional player at 16, playing in the house band for his
father’s television talent show, Something New, Bibb went
on to study (psychology and Russian) at Columbia University, but
“after a while it just didn't make much sense; I didn't
understand why I was at this Ivy League school with all these kids
who didn't know anything about what I knew about,” he
says now. Aged 19, he left for Paris, where a meeting with American
studio guitarist Mickey Baker focused his interest in blues guitar.
A few years later he moved to Sweden and settled in Stockholm,
where he found a creative environment that, oddly, reminded him
of his teenage days in Greenwich Village. He made a handful of albums,
starting in 1972, and began meeting and playing with local musicians
as well as newcomers from all over the world. He laughs: “There
was a budding world music scene going on, long before it became
a marketing concept.”
His breakthrough album, “Good Stuff” was released
in 1997 and led to Bibb signing to a British label, which in turn
released “Me to You,” featuring appearances from some
of his personal heroes, among them Pops and Mavis Staples and Taj
The album furthered Bibb’s international reputation and
was followed by tours of the UK, the United States, Canada, France,
Sweden and Germany. And so it went through the 90s and the first
decade of the new century - he made consistently good records, and
built audiences from Stockholm to Sydney, Vancouver to Vienna, Paris
to Peoria, New Orleans to Newcastle, and from B.B. King’s
club in New York to the Bluebird Café in Nashville.