Radar: Hear Elvin Bishop's 'Big Fun Trio'

Feb 3, 2017

Elvin Bishop called his first Alligator album Big Fun.  Aptly-titled. He’s always having fun. And his newest Alligator album continues in the same spirit, Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio. He was having so much fun jamming with a couple of friends, guitarist/pianist Bob Welch and percussionist/singer Willy Jordan, that they became a band. Most remarkable is the full sound that the trio gets from Bishop’s guitar, with Welch’s piano providing the bass and Jordan’s slapping, scratching, thumping, and rumbling on a cajon (a wooden box the player sits on, the sound at the heart of flamenco) providing all the “drums” needed to rock. They’re joined on a song each by three of the most fun-loving harmonicats: Kim Wilson, Rick Estrin, and Charlie Musselwhite.

“Keep It Rollin”” kicks it all off with one of Bishop’s satirical romps, laughing at the political circus of Congress. Another song celebrates the eats of New Orleans, especially at Mother’s — where even “the gum under the tables” is good. They have fun on covers of some favorite songs of Ted Taylor (“Can’t Take No More”), Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Honey Babe”), Bobby Womack (“It’s All Over Now”), Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew (“Let The Four Winds Blow”). And one of the album’s highlights remembers all the fun of the “100 Years of Blues” Bishop and Musselwhite have played since they came to Chicago in the 60’s, listened to Muddy and Wolf, chased all the women, drank all the whiskey, and survived to sing the tale.  

“I love these guys,” said Elvin about Bob and Willy. “With a trio there’s no place to hide.  You’ve got to be pourin’ everything you got right out front. Totally goin’ for it all the time. If you’ve got some real good musicians who are willing and able to do that, you’ve got something that will move people. And it’s fun!"