I titled this post somewhat facetiously, since I don't really think that veteran bluesmith Eric Bibb cut his new album in Louisiana on vacation. It's just that the album, Deeper in the Well, sounds so relaxed and natural that I wouldn't be surprised if everyone involved considered it their personal vacation. The promo shots on the album of Bibb traveling the bayous in his Hawaiian shirt and lounging barefoot on the porch pickin' his guitar help with this image, as does the pic of all the great collaborators on the album with huge grins on their faces. It's just that kind of music: the old-fashioned summery country blues and roots music done with such joyous ease that you just can't keep from grinnin'.
The story behind the album is that Eric Bibb met with his booking agent Matt Greenhill of Folklore Productions. Greenhill suggested adding to Bibb's touring duo–Bibb and Seattle harmonica virtuoso Grant Dermody–by approaching renowned old-time and Cajun multi-instrumentalist (and awesome recording engineer) Dirk Powell. The collaboration between Bibb, Dermody, and Powell went so well that the decision was made to record. In a second stroke of genius, Greenhill suggested adding Louisiana Creole super-star fiddler and accordionist Cedric Watson. That's one hell of a band there, and indeed this group is actually touring now under the name "The Eric Bibb String Band." In any case, this super-group of roots musicians from country blues, Southern old-time, and Louisiana Creole/Cajun backgrounds got together around Dirk Powell's Cypress House Recording Studio in the charming, sleepy little town of Breaux Bridge, and proceeded to knock out a thoroughly relaxed and wonderful album together.
Bibb leads the group, and anyone who knows country blues knows how effortless this music is to him by now. Grant Dermody shines throughout, helped by his experience playing harmonica in many other genres outside the blues. We recently promoted his solo album, which we completely fell in love with, and we also recently reviewed his recent trio album with dobro master Orville Johnson and guitar whiz John Miller. Dirk Powell brings a whole stack of instruments to the recording, plus his truly excellent ear at recording acoustic roots music. Cedric Watson fiddles throughout and basically proves there's nothing he can't play. The songs are drawn equally from traditional sources and Eric's pen, but sound traditional throughout. Standouts include the rollicking "Dig a Little Deeper in the Well," sourced from an old Doc and Merle Watson recording, a jointly written song, "Money in Your Pocket," from Eric and one of our favorite songwriters, Michael Jerome Browne, and a fascinating reduction of the classic "Sinner Man."
I could talk a lot more about this album, but honestly the point here is that it's just pure fun to listen to. And I imagine it must have been pure fun to make. Wish I coulda been a fly on the wall at these recording sessions!
Eric Bibb: Bayou Belle