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Elvin Bishop, Belly Up Tavern, San Diego, CA- 2/28

A career retrospective of sorts, Elvin Bishops Friday night show at the Belly Up Tavern was a reminder that Duane Allman and Dickey Betts had another Southern boy hot on their heels, in the Southern hot – fried guitar department. Bishops’ dual guitar harmonies spoke volumes on this rainy winters’ night; as he reclaimed his rightful place among the heavyweights of Rock n’ Blues, not that he ever really went away.

Serving up equal parts blues and his Southern Rock n Soul stylings, it was evident just how deep his roots in American music go. Strapping on his old red Gibson, things kicked off with a short Bo Diddley inspired instrumental followed by the old jump n’ blues standard “Hey- Ba–Ba- Ree–Bop.” He had no objections from the full house, when asked to join in on the chorus. In short order, Bishop was joined on stage by opening act Paul Thorn, singing an energetic version of Bishop’s new single “What The Hell Is Going On” and a rousing version of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”

The evening’s offerings also included a helping of Bishop’s seminal sides from his FM heyday including; “Stealing Watermelons,” “Juke Joint Jump,” “Traveling Shoes,” and “Rock My Soul,” Co- guitarist Welsh prove adept at going toe to toe with Bishop, delivering sinewy tandem guitar lines. Additionally, Bishop was joined by longtime collaborator Johnny Vernazza, for a spirited version of the blues standard “Talk To Me Baby.”

Content to let his capable band shine, he shared much of the vocal duties with the others. The group included: Bobby Cochran (drums, vocals), Ruth Daniels (upright bass), Ed Early (trombone, vocals), Steve Willis (accordion, keyboard, vocals), and Bob Welsh (guitar).

Other songs in the set included: “Going Fishin,” “Getting My Groove Back” and “Next Time You See Me.” Ending the show with a rowdy encore, Bishop snaked his way through the crowd, stabbing blues lines for the happy throng of admirers. As he unstrapped his guitar to leave, he grinned and exclaimed: “I hope to see y’all again real soon.” Let’s hope so.

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