Review: Billy Gibson – Live At The North Atlantic Blues Festival DVD

Posted on: Friday, Jun 13, 2008

“Live At The North Atlantic Blues Festival”
(North Atlantic Blues Records)

Here’s another treat courtesy of the good folk at Blind Raccoon, Memphis musician, the ‘Prince of Beale Street’, Billy Gibson and his band on DVD at last year’s North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland, Maine.

The six-song selection finds the energetic Gibson and his band – David Bowen (guitar/vocals), James Jackson (bass), Cedric Keel (drums/vocals), with special guest, fellow Memphis musician, Charlie Wood (keyboards/vocals) – on a gloriously sunny day working the blues festival audience in fine style.

Billy Gibson is a top harmonica player and singer – voted Beale Street Entertainer of the Year in 2005, and years on the road have turned him into somewhat of a showman who has a warm rapport with his crowed as is captured on the first couple of uptempo tunes – the rolling “Down Home” and “Keep Doin’ What You’re Doin'”, from the pen of guitarist David Bowen.

Blues legend Eddie Taylor’s “Bad Boy” is given a funky overhaul, with a lovely version of Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away” following. Tony Joe White’s swampy “Polk Salad Annie” rounds things off in showstopping fashion – with rousing harmonica from Gibson, rounding off a most pleasant hour in the company of a fine musician and his band.

My only slight criticism would be that for all Gibson’s energy his band don’t seem to keep up, dropping into somewhat of a lethargic groove at times, apart from guest Wood, who contributes some sparkling piano and organ to proceedings.

Still, for anyone who does not know Gibson’s work, this is a perfect introduction – beautifully capturing the feel of a blues festival on a glorious day – nicely shot and directed by Paul E. Benjamin and Richard Pelletier.


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