Gibbons to bring blues band to Honeywell

By Joseph Slacian

Legendary guitar player Billy F Gibbonss will return to the Honeywell Center’s Ford Theater on Saturday, Oct. 20.

This time, however, it won’t be with his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bandmates Dusty Hill and Frank Beard from ZZ Top.

It will be with a few musicians he put together to tour and promote his new solo album, “The Big Bad Blues.”

“Our touring outfit is Matt Sorum on the skins, Austin ‘Lefthand’ Hanks on guitar and that’s about it,” Gibbons told The Paper of Wabash County in an Internet interview. “We also got another ace six-string technician, Elwood Francis, filling in some blanks. We’re keeping it basic bare-bones and bluesy.”

“The Big Bad Blues,” Gibbons’ second solo album, was released Sept. 21 on Concord Records.

“The first one, ‘Perfectamundo,’ was catalyzed by an invitation to play at the Havana Jazz Festival,” Gibbons said, talking about his solo projects. “We thought it would be appropriate if we worked up some Afro-Cuban sounds for that interesting gathering and it began to percolate. We figured that, well, as long as we’re at it, we might as well let the studio tape machines roll.
“The new one is fulfilling a request from Concord Records honcho, John Burk. JB said, ‘How ‘bout a blues album?’ and we responded, ‘Coming right up.’
“These solo projects are just another way to get out there and play and that’s what a good time is all about. You ring, we bring, so to speak.”

The new album features two Muddy Waters songs, with the rest written by Gibbons. Some have compared the album to early works of ZZ Top.

The Paper asked Gibbons what concertgoers should expect: A lot from the new album with some ZZ Top material intermixed?

“Hey, you’re leading the witness here,” he joked. “We’re going to play numbers from ‘The Big Bad Blues’ album and as far as other material is concerned, let’s just leave it as ‘Stay tuned.’

“We’d love to tell you what we intend to play; however, the fact is we never know. We just let it flow when we plug in and tune up. Spontaneity is its own reward.”

The blues have been a major influence in Gibbons life and musical career.

“My Dad, a professional entertainer, took me into a B.B. King recording session when I turned 7, suspecting a first-hand connection would be a definite influence,” Gibbons said. “That was the moment I knew what I wanted to do: play electric guitar and get down with it. My Mom took me to see Elvis Presley a few years before that so the die was cast early on.
“As far as influences are concerned, it’s quite a long list, so here’s just the tip of the iceberg: Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, the aforementioned B.B. King and the other Kings – Albert and Freddie King.
“Of course, there’s Keith Richards and Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck from across the pond. I just dig all those true blue ‘git down’ cats.”

When not playing music, Gibbons has ventured into acting, having a periodic role in the television series “Bones” as the street musician father of Angela Montenegro, one of the characters on the series.

“The producers were casting for a bearded, guitar slinger who looked like he might be a cranky sort,” Gibbons said. “That typecasting was the easy part.”

Another role may be in the offing.

“There’s now a piece underway with our big screen pal, Billy Bob Thornton and a long-time sidekick, J.P. Shellnutt, where we go way back to the desert Old West,” Gibbons continued. “Cadillacs, cactus, horses, telephones and cantinas. We’re ready for the close-up, Mr. Demille.”

As for the future of ZZ Top, the band is making plans for its upcoming golden anniversary in 2019.

“The ZZ fans can anticipate some non-stop rambunctiousness as we start celebrating our 50th year of getting out there and turning it up,” Gibbons said. “It’s gonna be a fine time so come on out and see us whenever we’re in the nabe.”

Gibbons’ Honeywell Center show will cap off a daylong of activities in Wabash on Oct 20, starting with the Farmer’s Market at 8 a.m. The American Heritage Crash Show will be at the Honeywell Center beginning at 9 a.m., and the 16th annual Wabash Cannonball Chili for Charity Chili Cook-off will take place at noon at the Paradise Spring Historical Park.

Tickets for the show, which range from $49 to $275, are still available at the Honeywell Center Box Office.

Posted on 2018 Oct 09