Eric Bibb & Ruthie Foster | City Winery | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader
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Eric Bibb

Eric Bibb

When: Thu., Feb. 20, 8 p.m. 2014
Price: $32, $35 for premier, $38 for VIP
New York-born, Helsinki-based bluesman Eric Bibb made his mark in the 90s as an acoustic revivalist, but since then he’s greatly expanded his vision—though he’s never lost his deep-blues commitment, he’s incorporated elements of pop, country, contemporary singer-songwriter folk, and world music. On his 2004 album Friends, he included a low-key but emotionally resonant reading of Guy Clark’s “The Cape,” about a kid who wears a flour sack on his back a la Superman and suddenly dares great things (“He’s one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith / Spread your arms and hold your breath, and always trust your cape”). Bibb’s latest, Jericho Road (Stony Plain), shoots out in similarly unbluesy directions, with dexterous contributions from Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Solo Cissokho (“Nanibali”) and Croatian trumpeter Goran Kajfes (“Now,” a churchy vision of global unity and world peace). Bibb’s message—love, community, faith in the human spirit—admittedly looks like idealistic folkie boilerplate, but his obvious commitment and unpretentious but wide-ranging erudition (to say nothing of his chops) bring satisfying depth and breadth to all his music. And when he chooses, he can still grind out blues that sound like they belong on a Mississippi back road. Ruthie Foster, a blues-based singer-guitarist every bit as accomplished as Bibb, opens the show. —David Whiteis

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