Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio: Something Smells Funky ‘Round Here
When Elvin Bishop got together in 2015 with guitarist/pianist Bob Welsh and Willy Jordan on cajón (a box-shaped hand drum), the guitarist/vocalist had such a blast with the stripped-down formula that he named his new outfit the Big Fun Trio. With the release of their self-titled album in 2017, Big Fun Trio garnered critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination. Now, they’re back with round two and it’s as much fun as the first. The formula couldn’t be any simpler: Write some smart new tunes, dip into the well for some favorites penned by others and don’t fuss; just go into the studio and lay them down. That doesn’t mean it’s a goof. The title track, which opens the album, has a couple of things to say about race relations and politics. (“This country is ours, we gotta respect it/ The guy we’ve got in charge I believe he’s wrecked it.”) But mostly, it’s all about the easy-going blues and soul that Bishop’s been hawking since he left the Paul Butterfield Blues Band decades ago: You don’t have to be a farmer to know that Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino’s “Another Mule,” shuffling along at a loping pace, isn’t, well, about a mule, and if Bishop talks his way through his own “Lookin’ Good” more than sings it, then you’ll still want to pay attention. Toss in pitch-perfect covers of Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” and Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” and you bet you’re gonna have as good a time listening as they did making it.