He was the first person to play the new World Records stage, and now Elvin Bishop and his Big Fun Trio return there Saturday in support of their latest album, “Something Smells Funky ‘Round Here.” For Bishop, Bakersfield, and the World Records venue itself, hold a special place for him.
“I like the people there (in Bakersfield)," Bishop said. "There was this guy in my band, (the beloved late local saxophonist) “Daddy” Ray Arvizu, he was from Bakersfield. Through him, I made friends with a lot of people in Bakersfield. And (World Records’ owner) Pat Evans is really a great guy. He’s got a good concept down there that doesn’t happen in every town, you know?”
“I’ll be glad to see 'em (the people of Bakersfield) and we’ll all have a good time and don’t worry about nothin’.”
“Something Smells Funky ‘Round Here” is a pretty cut-and-dried blues album and its swampy title track finds Bishop uncharacteristically, yet unabashedly, political. Something smells funky ‘round here? Spoiler alert: It’s coming from Washington, D.C.
“It was just kind of what was on my mind,” Bishop said. “I basically got the political thing out of my system with that one. I normally don't get too involved with politics, but this time Trump seems so outrageous. I had to say something. It’s not my new career or anything.”
An album standout is the song “Lookin’ Good” where Bishop reminisces over what he’s gained — especially sobriety — what’s come his way and what he’s gotten away with. He does so while speaking plainly over a blues groove with a fair amount of wit, relief and self-deprecation. He’s just happy to be here in this exquisitely-timed Thanksgiving.
The album, much like their 2017 Grammy-nominated self-titled release, has a distinct sound and sonic clarity. Bishop’s and bandmate Bob Welsh’s electric guitars, baritone guitar, organ and piano are still there, but drummer and co-vocalist Willy Jordan plays a cajón — a hand-played drum box — in lieu of a drum set. The three of them will be performing with that same instrumentation Saturday.
“Being in a trio kind of encourages you to be totally into it all the time,” Bishop said. “There's no place to hide and you don't want any dead spots.”
Dead spots shouldn't be an issue for the 76-year-old Bishop, who has been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues and Oklahoma Jazz hall of fames, and has a lot of material to cover from his almost-six-decade career. This includes his 1976 signature song, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love," one of my all-time favorite songs.
Bishop infuses a joyous exuberance into his music and it translates to his welcome listeners. That’s also true of the evening’s opening act, The Patterson Family Band, a local acoustic guitar and vocal trio consisting of two sisters and their father. Make sure to get to the show early to catch them. They’re fantastic.
Elvin Bishop, part 94 of the No Stinkin’ Service Charge Blues Series, with The Patterson Family Band, 7-10 p.m. Saturday at World Records, 2815 F St. Tickets are $40-$50, available at World Records and by calling 325-1982.
Crime Bison, Early Nites, and Contranistas, 9 p.m. Friday at Sandrini’s Public House, 1918 Eye St. $5.
For fans of local indie rock, there’s a lot to like about this Friday’s show at Sandrini’s Pub. Crime Bison’s sprightly, jazz-infused elf-pop has never been stronger or more confident. Early Nites will return from a hibernation of sorts with its own indie-rock stylings. But the real highlight is the experimental duo Contranistas, consisting of guitarist Dax Dominguez using a combination of pedals and guitars to create real-time loops for drummer Robert Morgan to play over. It demands a particular choreography to pull off and it’s bonkers to see them orchestrate it live. Check it out, bullpen, and — respectfully — excelsior!