MP3 Bobby G. - Smokey Mountain Blues
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9 MP3 Songs
BLUES: Electric Blues, BLUES: Rockin' Blues
Blues soloist Bobby G life of music
By Greg Sessoms * Correspondent
It's funny how people who excel in a particular endeavor, be it athletic or artistic, often make the extraordinary look easy. Whether it is Tiger Woods chipping in from 30 yards out or the late painter Bob Ross making a large pine tree appear on a canvas with just a few brush strokes ("I think we'll let this little guy live right over here"), the seeming ease with which the truly talented perform often belies the magnificent achievements that result.
Bobby Gilbert, a.k.a. Bobby G., is just this sort of blues guitarist.
Gilbert's sound, with its intricate chord progressions and frenetic pace, brings to mind guitar originals such as Carlos Santana and J.J. Cale. Heady company indeed, but it is the seemingly relaxed manner in which Gilbert delivers such a high-energy blues sound that impresses most. Gilbert does not display the extreme face contortions or over-wrought arm motions that some other guitarists indulge in. He plays with an efficiency and ease of motion that almost seems at odds with the torrent of notes screaming out of the amp, and can only be the product of decades of experience. If you ignore his fingers gliding smoothly up and down the fret board and look only at his face, you could almost forget he is the man actually playing.
Gilbert's stage presence is understated as well. One will not find pyrotechnics, choreographed dancers or elaborate costumes (Gilbert usually performs in a pair of sneakers, blue jeans and an open button-up shirt over a T shirt) At a Bobby G. show there isn't even a band as the percussion, bass, brass and other instruments that accompany Gilbert's searing blues guitar are recorded beforehand by Gilbert and reproduced by a small, gray box called a sequencer. The show is all about Bobby G. and his guitar and that is more than enough.
Gilbert comes by his talent honestly, having started playing guitar in the 1960s as a child growing up in Arkansas.
"I was 11 or 12 when I started. I had a cousin who played guitar and he was the one who really got me into it. He was quite a bit older than I and was playing all that 60s rocker stuff like The Ventures. He showed me some stuff and I took lessons for a couple of weeks, but the instructor was giving me stuff that I didn't want to learn, so I wound up teaching myself. I got a two-speed tape recorder and I would slow down songs and listen to the guitar parts and play along," said Gilbert.
Gilbert continued to learn how to play and eventually formed a touring band called Outer Drive while he attended college in Michigan in the early 1970s. Gilbert's hobby would soon become a profession that would place him in the company of some of the biggest names in rock and blues.
"I met the manager for the band Frijid Pink, who had a big hit with their cover of 'House of the Rising Sun' (the single reached number seven on the charts) and started playing in their band. I stayed with them for four years and basically got to tour the world. I finished college too and got a degree in psychology. I've never used it," said Gilbert.
Indeed, Gilbert has managed to support himself as a professional musician ever since, and in the years that followed his tour with Frijid Pink, has appeared and toured with such musical greats as B.B. King and Buddy Guy. He also performed at AC/DC lead singer Bryan Johnson's 50th birthday party. True to his understated playing style, Gilbert remains modest about his success as a musician.
"Some people will tell you you're good and this or that. I'm not going to say I'm great or better than anyone else. I'm just lucky. I'd rather be lucky than good," said Gilbert.
Gilbert now resides near Bethel in Haywood County and continues to tour the country as a solo act as well as play a few shows locally at Towne Square in Waynesville (visit https://www.tradebit.com for information on upcoming shows). He also has just released his first solo album titled Smokey Mountain Blues available at https://www.tradebit.com. While the songs on the album are lyrically simple and adhere strictly to the conventional blues paradigm (lost love, lost friends, regret, etc.) they do showcase Gilbert's impressive talent as a world-class blues guitarist.
Gerg Sessoms - The Smokey Mountain News (Aug 31, 2005)
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