Big Fun indeed from a beloved good-time musician. Guests include Dr. John and Norton Buffalo. "The strongest work of his career...filled with unrelenting high energy and good humor" - CHICAGO TRIBUNE
STEVIE GURR, Guitars and Harp on Honest I Do
TERRY HANCK or NANCY WRIGHT, Tenor Sax
REYNALDO "DADDY RAY" ARVIZU, JR., Alto Sax
PHIL AABERG or MAC "DR. JOHN" REBENNACK, Keyboards
MICHAEL "FLY" BROOKS, Bass
GARY SILVA, Drums
NORTON BUFFALO, Harmonica
STEVIE GURR, GARY SILICA, KATHY KENNEDY and KATIE GUTHORN, Background Vocals
WHIT LEHNBERG and The CARPTONES, General Mayhem on Fishin' Again
Produced by ELVIN BISHOP
STEVIE GURR and BRUCE IGLAUER, Associate Producers
Recorded at Starlite Sound, Richmond, CA
Engineered and mixed by BILL THOMPSON
Assistant engineering by ANDREW GRAY with MARYELLEN PERRY and DARRIN HARRIS
Cover photos by PAT JOHNSON
Cover design by PETER AMFT
Mastered by GEORGE HORN at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA
PHIL AABERG appears courtesy of Windham Hill Records
He was, of course, fooling around with his radio. Young Elvin knew, in those early days of rock and roll, that if he wanted to venture beyond the cozy world of popular music, all he had to do was flick the dial, and there, to the far, far right of the middle-of-the-road, were the blues.
Fiddling with his radio that night in his home in Tulsa, Elvin discovered WLAC beaming out of Nashville, sending the work of bluesmen like Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Percy Mayfield to any ears that wanted to pick them up.
A couple of years later Elvin grabbed his guitar and made the pilgrimage to Chicago, where he hooked up with a harp player. The two of them hit all the hot spots, as well as a few lukewarm ones, until they got a band together. His friend was Paul Butterfield, and Bishop was the band's lead guitarist.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was the first fusion of rock, blues and jazz, the musical father of Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and many others. But in the late sixties, when the road got too nuts, Bishop moved west and plotted out his own band. Over the years--about 20 of them, if anyone's counting--he's had plenty of them, but the music remains the same. It's based on Elvin's early music teaching, that "gospel, country blues, Chicago blues, R&B, soul . . . they're all just different formats of the same feeling."
On stages around his adopted home--the San Francisco Bay Area--his purpose was simple: party down. Blues were the base, but the music went all over the place, with Elvin usually decked out in a straw hat and blue jean overalls, playing the Okie farmboy hippie host. In a voice he modestly described as "limited," he romped through songs about good and bad women, sweet and sour love, and about his favorite recreational pursuits: fishing, eating and partying. Elvin good-naturedly shared the spotlight, occasionally joined by musicians like the Tower of Power Horns, the Pointer Sisters, and Mickey Thomas. It was Mickey who, as part of the band in 1976, took the lead vocal on "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" and sent Elvin reeling into the Top Ten.
It had been almost a decade since Elvin recorded an album, but now he's cut a dandy. It's a set of tunes he's been writing and collecting over the years, while he's stayed busy raising a family and gigging up and down the West Coast.
In this welcome home to the recording studio, Bishop's band is joined by Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack and long-time ally Phil Aabert on keyboards, the legendary Norton Buffalo on harmonica, and by local vocalists Katie Guthorn and Kathy Kennedy (from the rowdy party band, Big Bang Beat).
In every cut, it's evident that Elvin has never lost that feeling. Once again, he's doing what he does best, laying out songs like he's putting on a feast. He, his guitar, and all his friends are in top form. In a time when radio is tighter than a pair of spandex pants on a beer-drinkin' woman, here's hoping that Elvin's music gets on the air somehow, somewhere. When it does, some kid out there, late one night, is bound to fall in love.
Ben Fong-Torres, a former senior editor at Rolling Stone, writes for various national magazines and is a feature writer and radio columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle.
Thanks to Cara, Emily and Salina Bishop, Lynn and Naomi Silva, Joann Whittenbrook, Joyce Lehnberg, Erin Brooks, Rene and Esther Arvizu, Carrie Loar, Joe and Chris from Real Guitars, Josh Hecht, Suave Productions (Bill and Miki), Kay Arbuckle, Econo-car (Heidi and Mark), E&O Mari, Inc. (Richard Coco), Rosie Flores, Jack Howe, Steve Hazelwood, Innovative, Rosebud Music, Tom Dani, Peoples' Choice BBQ, Stu Saffer, Vic Firth, A.F.T., Glen and Willie and All the Pretty Girls and All the Ugly Fellas.