Eric Bibb's debut CD for Dixie Frog/Stony Plain "Deeper in the Well" may well have been one of the most important roots music albums of recent years. Not only does it cross genres folk, gospel-infused acoustic blues, and down-home country but it offers a sound steeped in the rural Louisiana where it was recorded.
It also offers the spirit of hope and optimism in difficult times, in a friendly, warm-hearted and generous manner. To find your way though these darker days, he seems to say, you have to dig as the album title says "Deeper in the Well."
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. Eric'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", Eric 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.
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