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Eric Bibb Migration Blues

By Richard Ludmerer
In CD Reviews INDIE Blues
Apr 12th, 2017

Eric Bibb

Migration Blues

Stony Plain Records

Eric Bibb is the son of Leon Bibb a singer-songwriter popular during the folk music scene of the 1960’s. The younger Bibb was given his first guitar at the age of seven. Growing up in New York City he was surrounded by the folksingers of that era including Leadbelly, Odetta, Pete Seeger, Paul Robeson and Bob Dylan. Bibb knew that folk blues was his calling. Bibb released his debut recording in 1972.

In 2000 Bibb received his first Blues Music Award nomination for Acoustic Album of the Year. To date Bibb has 22 BMA nominations including two for 2017. Bibb won the BMA for Acoustic Artist of The Year in both 2012 and 2013.

This newest album is Bibb’s 37th overall. Bibb, guitar, banjo and vocals; is joined by French harmonica player J.J. Milteau. Bibb and Milteau last collaborated on 2015’s “Lead Belly’s Gold”.  They are joined by Canadian Michael Jerome Browne, guitar, banjo, mandolin and vocals.

As a troubadour Bibb has done his share of travelin’. He sees all people as being refugees at one time or other. Fleeing from hardship “is something people have been doing all over the world for millennia”. This theme runs through all of these songs.

“Refugee Moan” was written by Bibb who plays a baritone guitar and sings beautifully. Browne plays a banjo made out of a gourd while Milteau is on harp. “Delta Getaway” is from Bibb and Milteau; it is about a black man, an ex-slave, journeying from Mississippi to Chicago to avoid a lynching. “Diego’s Blues” by Bibb and Browne is about Mexican workers who migrated to the Mississippi Delta to replace the African Americans who were leaving for the north; Ollie Linder plays drums. “Prayin For Shore” is about those refugees who attempted to reach a safe haven by taking a boat across the open sea; this is a sensitive vocal from Bibb who is beautifully accompanied by Milteau on harmonica.

”Four Years, No Rain” was written by Browne with B.A. Markus. Bibb sings while accompanied by Browne on guitar and Milteau’s harp. Also from this songwriting team comes “Blacktop”.

Included are two instrumentals, the title track, “Migration Blues” written by the trio; and “La Vie C’est Comme Un Oignon” from Milteau and Browne who also plays fiddle. The latter is about the French Acadians of Nova Scotia who were forcefully removed by the British in the French and Indian War. Many of the Acadians relocated to Louisiana where they are now called Cajuns. Other songs written by Bibb include “We Had to Move” about eminent domain; “Brotherly Love” and “With A Dollar in My Pocket”.

Covers include Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” which is given a less angry and more poetic treatment; and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land”. The album closes with Bibb singing the traditional spiritual “Mornin’ Train”.

Bibb has master-minded this concept album with Browne and Milteau. It is beautifully sung and performed.

Richard Ludmerer






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