Best known to classic radio listeners for ’70s Southern rock hits like “Struttin’ My Stuff” and “Fooled Around And Fell In Love,” Elvin Bishop had already earned a reputation in the guitar community – specifically blues guitar, via his ’60s work with the pivotal Butterfield Blues Band, where he played alongside guitar icon Mike Bloomfield.
The past 20 years have seen him return to his blues roots, with albums for Alligator and Blind Pig. Perhaps to drive home the point that the blues do indeed roll on, Bishop gathered a disparate group of guests for his Delta Groove debut, from adolescent newcomers like the Homemade Jamz Blues Band to the octogenarian King Of The Blues, B.B. himself.
The latter joins Elvin on the Roy Milton chestnut “Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket,” which has nice studio chatter between the two guitar greats. The title track features Bishop trading slide solos with Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes, who is also one of five guitarists (along with Allman Brother bandmate Derek Trucks and Bishop group alum Johnny “V” Vernazza) on a party-feel reworking of “Struttin’.”
The 66-year-old Bishop is equally at home in the zydeco-blues mode of “Black Gal,” featuring Andre Thierry’s accordion and R.C. Carrier’s rubboard and vocals. For “Send You Back To Georgia,” Bishop taps George Thorogood for that raw Hound Dog Taylor sound.
John Nemeth handles lead vocals on several songs (and alternates harp duties with Kim Wilson and James Cotton), sounding like a cross between Junior Wells and Robert Cray. But “Oklahoma,” featuring Bishop alone on distorted guitar, foot stomp, and vocal (singing his autobiography, about moving from Oklahoma to Chicago to San Francisco), is the album’s strongest track. Note to Elvin: how about a whole album of just you and your guitar?
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.