Like so many American roots musicians, Eric Bibb is big in Europe, where the acoustic Delta blues he plays probably seems more exotic. During a recent UK tour, he was approached by a fan who told him he appreciated Bibb’s authentic approach to the blues and the way the guitarist carries the torch for his musical ancestors. If they could meet the next day, he told Bibb, the fan would bring along the legendary Booker White’s National guitar and give Bibb the chance to play it. Bibb agreed to the meeting. “Spiritually, the experience of playing Booker White’s guitar took my personal connection to traditional country blues to another level,” Bibb recalls in the liner notes to his latest album, Booker’s Guitar. “It actually felt like an initiation and a benediction. I felt the time was right to offer a handmade tribute to the music and musicians of a bygone era.”
Booker’s Guitar stemmed from that meeting, and the album is pure and intimate—a loving tribute to White and the acoustic blues tradition. Bibb wrote all but one of the songs, and the album begins with the title track: a sweet folk tune with the refrain “Booker’s guitar’s got a story to tell.” Some of the songs are more hard-edged—a couple include Grant Dermody on harmonica—but mostly it’s just Bibb’s soulful voice and his expressive acoustic guitar work, beautifully recorded to every nuance of the artist’s playing and every word of his songs.
Producers: Bibb, Michael Bishop. Engineer: Bishop for Five/Four Productions Ltd. Additional Recording: Levi B. Saunders, Robbie Duncan, Kristofer Truzzi, Paul Worthington. Recorded in the Bainbridge Store, a 19th-century general store at the Geauga County Historical Society Century Village (Burton, Ohio). Mastering: Bishop.