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Billy Gibson: The Billy Gibson Band

Woodrow Wilkins By

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If anyone thinks the blues is a dead genre, they're badly mistaken. The Billy Gibson Band rocks from the first note of its new self-titled album. The first song, "Down Home, sets the tone early, with the bandleader on harmonica and lead vocals, singing, "Let's go down, down home, where I play the blues... on my Mississippi saxophone. Sidemen David Bowen (guitar), James Jackson (bass), and Cedric Keel (drums) lay down an impressive background rhythm. While prominent in support without overpowering the leader, each musician adds his own personal touch to this recording. Of course, the star is Gibson. He puts the harmonica through some blazing riffs during the middle solo and fade.

The blues, a product of sorrowful times in the Deep South, particularly the Mississippi Delta, is best when presented when artists aren't trying to be hip by injecting modern elements into their sound. Just play and sing from the heart. It's the kind of music that gets heads to bobbin', fingers to snappin', and feet to tappin' when it's done right. Gibson and his supporting cast definitely do it right. Born near Jackson, Mississippi, and now a resident of Memphis, Gibson has twice received the Memphis Premiere Player Award for "Best Harmonica.

Charlie Wood (organ) and Charles Cambell (saxophone) join the ensemble for "Home at Last (a.k.a. Country Girl), a delightful tune about the singer's woman, whose stunning good looks cause a stir every time she takes a stroll along Memphis' Beale Street. Of course, the blues wouldn't be the blues without some pain. Enter "Darlin Please Come Home, an easygoing yet melancholy song. It's the type of lyric that's in every old-school blues singer's repertoire: a story of love that ran away.

Six of the nine tracks were penned by Gibson and Bowen, including the opener, which they co-wrote. The group also included songs by Rudy Toombs, Mose Vinson, and a much-celebrated Mississippi Delta bluesman, the late Willie Foster. "Love Everybody features Gibson in a sizzling harmonica solo that's reminiscent of Foster's style. Once upon a time, there was concern that old-fashioned blues was a dying art. However, Gibson and company are just another example that proves the art continues to thrive.

Visit Billy Gibson on the web.


Track Listing: Down Home; Keep Doin

Personnel: Billy Gibson: vocals and harmonica; David Bowen: guitar and background vocals; James Jackson: bass; Cedric Keel: drums and background vocals. Guests: Charlie Wood: piano, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, organ, clavinet and background vocals; Charles Cambell: saxophone; Lucy Hathcote and Lynn Cardona: background vocals.

Title: The Billy Gibson Band | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Inside Sounds


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