That’s My Thing DVD
BluesWax Rating: 9 out of 10
The Next Best Thing
I hadn’t seen Elvin Bishop since the 1970s. I saw him on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise in January, and now this!
That’s My Thing is Bishop’s first DVD. Captured on December 17, 2011, at Club Fox in Redwood City, California, That’s My Thing runs ninety-six minutes and includes eighteen tunes by Bishop and his band. That band consists of (ladies first) bassist Ruth Davies (Maria Muldaur, John Lee Hooker, Danny Caron); trombonist Ed Earley (John Nemeth); triple-threat S.E. Willis on keyboards, harp, and accordion; Bobby Cochran on drums and vocals; and, guitarist Bob Welsh.
That’s My Thing sets the evening’s tone at funky and grungy. Welsh solos first, followed by a well-executed piano break by Willis, who also doubles on harp. The hilarious and barking “My Dog” is next and the party is in full swing. Up steps drummer Cochran with energetic and passionate vocals for a nicely paced “Getting’ My Groove Back” that gets the room swinging. Bishop breaks out his slide on the straight blues “Mellow-D,” steps out for a intro solo where the band is fully lubed and gelling. Welsh smartly solos next then hands his solo back to his boss who soars closing out this well-executed instrumental. Bishop opines “That the good old days are gone” on a rollicking “What the Hell is Going On.” Its storytelling time as Bishop speaks about his youthful visits to Arkansas for homemade and cheap spirits on “Arkansas Line.” Bishop pays homage to the Crescent City on the deliciously funky “Got to be New Orleans,” calling out club names, regional culinary delights, cold beers, and well-known NOLA bands, yelping “Where You at?” Willis’ accordion fits regionally perfectly here too.
A slightly revamped “Travelin’ Shoes” is introduced at a slower pace than its original on Capricorn Records’ Let It Flow album (it’s also very expensive to purchase on CD). Willis heats up the proceedings with a lively piano segment and Welsh and Bishop dazzle with classic southern rock dueling solos and it’s and off to the races they go. Nice! Especially when Bishop asks, “Is everyone having a good time?” Obviously yes, as the crowd responds wildly. Let’s go “Fishin’” with hook, line, and sinker where everyone’s having a ball with a zealous Bishop wandering the club’s floor inviting a pretty lady onstage to dance and strum his guitar. Let’s “Stomp” Bo Diddley like, at a near frantic pace on this intense instrumental romp. More food references on “Stealin’ Watermelons.” Oh yeah, as Willis comps a tasteful groove on keys, hands off to Welsh who fires strong with some jazzy chords, all of this makes for yet another funky delight.
“Rock My Soul” is a good-time good feeling blues tune that will definitely have everyone smiling. Elvin introduces the vocal, the band falls into a sumptuous pocket, and Cochrane takes a vocal verse, Earley services on background vocals as Bishop lifts the band off into another solid jam that picks up steam like a locomotive. Hallelujah indeed! “Calling All Cows” is another thumping hoot with more dueling guitar work from Welsh and Bishop. Back to the blues, “L Bo” finds Bishop walking the crowd from the get-go and he’s wailing away. Earley finally gets a short solo, then Welsh. Bishop arrives back on stage and starts sharing licks with Welsh on this cool instrumental. The set thickens with the high-speed “Booty Bumpin.’” Willis catapults with another fine piano solo while Ruth Davies gets a well placed and crafty bass solo and the band kicks on where the only disappointment is that you know this fine set is nearing completion.
Then they let it roll with Cochran’s vigorous vocals on “Party Till the Cows Come Home.” Earley jumps out too, and the band is flying! One more slow blues, “Little Brown Bird,” which Elvin introduces with a solid solo. It’s nice to see Earley getting a little more solo space too, this time (twice) on muted trombone. Willis tickles the ivories as Bishop takes it out on vocals and rip-roaring guitar. Damn, it’s time to go home with “Bishop’s Boogie.” Oh no, the credits are rolling and it’s a wrap.
This DVD also includes a well-done, detailed, and very enjoyable interview with Bishop that finds Bishop recollecting his diverse career from Chicago, onto San Francisco’s Fillmore days, to the present. All in all, what you get here is a very unique band lineup that’s as good of a performing band you’ll ever see, no slouches here, and they communicate with each-other well too. This group is a very professional bunch, they also know how to have a great time, and they readily share their good vibes with their audiences. I hadn’t seen Bishop since I saw him open for the Allman’s back in the seventies, but that changed when I saw their solid set on the 20th Legendary R&B cruise in January, 2013. I was taken aback with their performances, and this DVD will always offer great memories of watching Bishop and his cohorts, but also for fond recollections of the Legendary R&B cruise. If you haven’t seen Bishop perform recently- just go! But if you don’t get a chance to see him soon, buy this DVD, you won’t be disappointed, it will also make you smile!
Bob Putignano is a senior contributing editor at BluesWax, a contributing writer at Blues Revue, and the heart and soul of Sounds of Blue.
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