Blues with the sweetest of voices in Sheffield

Eric Bibb
Eric Bibb
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Inevitably, some concerts stick in the memory more than others. When it comes to the Memorial Hall at the back of Sheffield City Hall, performances over the years by Eric Bibb have never failed to hit the mark.

Essentially, the American singer and guitarist plays acoustic blues, but in a distinctive style that encompasses folk, soul and gospel.

Sheffield audiences have come to realise that an evening in his company is one of warmth and inspiration, with an almost spiritual dimension. He is back with his band next Thursday (May 26), although this time he will be in the slightly larger venue of the City Hall Ballroom as part of his You Really Got Me Tour of the UK and Ireland.

It follows last year’s release of the Lead Belly’s Gold album on which Bibb and harmonica player Jean-Jacques Milteau paid homage to the old master.

More recently, Bibb has teamed up with revered English bass player Danny Thompson and two Helsinki brothers, Janne and Olli Haavisto, in North Country Far, releasing the album The Happiest Man In The World.

One of the tracks is a version of The Kinks’ You Really Got Me.

Eric Bibb had an immaculate grounding. He is the New York-born son of folk singer Leon Bibb. His godfather was singer and activist Paul Robeson and his uncle was the composer and jazz pianist John Lewis, founder the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Bibb left America for Paris before settling in Stockholm and now lives in Helsinki. There have been 36 albums since 1972, including many collaborations with the great and good.

The promise with the latest tour is “We’ll be playing a lot of new and old favourites,” which suggests the welcome return of the likes of Needed Time, Shingle By Shingle and I Heard The Angels Singing.

His daughter, singer Yana Bibb, provides the support, promoting her latest release, Afternoon in Paris.