Based in Sao
Paulo, Brazil, Giba “Guitar” Byblos is no stranger to straight-ahead Chicago
blues, and he delivers it in heaping helpings on this self-produced CD, the
second in his brief, but extremely tasty catalog.
to being a string-bender and vocalist who delivers his lyrics in almost totally
unaccented English, he’s also a music promoter who’s worked closely with some
of the best musicians the Windy City has to offer, including guitarists Jimmy
Johnson, aka the Barroom Preacher, rising superstar Toronzo Cannon and
Jon McDonald, a longtime fixture with Magic Slim, and drummer Merle Perkins, a
40-year veteran timekeeper and bandleader whose resume includes long service
time with James Cotton, Lonnie Brooks, Freddy and Albert King, John
Littlejohn and Son Seals, just to name a few.
disc in Byblos’ catalog,Tomorrowis a follow-up to the 2011 release,My Duty. It came about after a conversation
with Johnson at the conclusion of a Brazilian tour three years ago. The pair
were stuck in traffic and Giba, the driver, was feeling anxious. Johnson tried
to calm him, drawing from 60 years on the road. “Listen to me,” he said.
“Yesterday have came and gone. Tomorrow is unknown.”
of wisdom evolved into a song on which Byblos and Johnson share writing credits
as well as this album, which includes eight other Giba originals and three
covers. Johnson joins Byblos in the studio on rhythm and lead for a cover of
his classic tune, “Heap See.” Rounding out the sound are a collection of several
top Brazilian musicians, including Fabio Basili (bass), Paulinha Sarriso
(drums), Dada Tristao and Adriana Grineberg (keyboards), Mauricio Sahady
(guitar), Clayton Silva (sax) and Miqueias Nascimento (trumpet). Edu Gomes, who
produced the disc, adds tambourine and shakers.
take more than a few seconds of listening to “Tomorrow,” the title cut, which
opens the album, to realize that, which being totally current, Byblos’ attack
on the strings is a throwback to the clean approach that was popular in the
Windy City from the ‘60s onward, but is quickly becoming a dying art. Like
Johnson, Giba’s notes fly off of the fretboard through the amp and into the
soundboard in their natural state, virtually free of the many effects than
contemporaries rely on today. His voice is as powerful and clear as his
single-note guitar runs.
Byblos takes Junior Kimbrough’s “Lord Have Mercy On Me” out of the Hill Country
and makes it his own with a contemporary Chicago feel before a horn-fueled
cover of Johnson’s “Heap See,” on which the Windy City octogenarian lends a
hand himself. “Earn A Dime” delivers the thoughts of a heavy drinker who thinks
the only way he can make any money is by shooting dice. Unfortunately, he
realizes that all of his efforts are in vain as he struggles without a penny in
his pocket. Giba’s guitar solo cries out to reveal his pain.
sweeping guitar solo kicks off an updated version of Freddy King’s “She Put A
Whammy On Me,” which tells the story of falling for an unforgettable woman
who’s cast such a spell on him that he’s left in misery. A block of five more
originals follow. “Up For No Good” is a medium-paced shuffle with more fine
work on the strings about a woman who’s playing kiss-and-tell, while
“Riverside” recounts Byblos’ journey through the Mississippi Delta and a stay
at Clarksdale’s legendary Riverside Hotel, which served as a home to dozens of
top musicians before integration and where Bessie Smith died. “17 Years” is an
expression of lasting love after a long separation while “Wrong Place, Wrong
Time” is a slow blues lament about the end of a love affair before the uptempo
instrumental “Catch You On The Flipside” brings the album to a close.
through iTunes or direct from the artist’s website (above) andwww.bear-family.comin Europe,Tomorrowis a thoroughly modern disc that
anyone with an appreciation of straight-ahead Chicago-style guitar blues
absolutely will love. And it will provide even more proof that the blues is
alive and thriving far beyond the U.S. border. Giba’s delivery is rock-solid
throughout and his guitar playing is always powerful, but never forced. Pick
this one up today. You won’t be disappointed.