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Bishop to rock Grass Valley pre-New Year’s Eve

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Legendary blues-rock guitarist Elvin Bishop will return to Grass Valley for a special pre-New Year’s Eve Dance Party presented by The Center for the Arts. Bishop will take the stage with his trusty cherry red 1959 Gibson guitar at 8 p.m. Saturday.

A master of live performances, Bishop enjoys intimate concert halls found in small towns like Grass Valley.

“I like ones where you can really see the people and get with them and do the whole thing together,” Bishop told Guitar World in 2011.



Bishop has traveled the American blues and rock-and-roll road a long time. With his improvisational style of playing, Bishop has recorded and toured more than five decades with greats such as Clifton Chenier, John Lee Hooker and The Allman Brothers. His celebrated career is an eclectic mix of gutbucket blues played in smoky South Side Chicago taverns, raucous roadhouse R&B and good time rock and roll played on concert stages and festivals around the world.

Born in 1942 in Glendale, Calif., Bishop grew up on a farm in Elliott, Iowa, before his family moved to Tulsa, Okla., when he was 10. At an early age, Bishop would listen to classic songs from Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters on the family’s radio. Enthralled by the sound of blues, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll, Bishop quickly acquired his first guitar and set to work learning the instrument.




His talents won him a National Merit Scholarship and an opportunity to attend the University of Chicago. Bishop arrived in Chicago’s South Side in 1959, an area considered ground zero for urban blues music. Soon after, he crossed paths with fellow student Paul Butterfield. Together, they explored the taverns and blues joints in the black neighborhoods surrounding the university. At the time, blues giants like Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Otis Rush, Magic Sam and Howlin’ Wolf played in corner bars for a $2 cover charge just about any night of the week.

“In Chicago, I got to meet these guys and go stay in their houses and see how they lived, and how the music connected up with the culture. That was the beauty of it all,” Bishop reflected. Taken under wing by legendary bluesman Little Smokey Smothers, by 1963, Bishop and Butterfield had made their first recordings with veterans Billy Boy Arnold and James Cotton. That same year, they recruited Howlin’ Wolf’s former rhythm section of Sam Lay on drums and Jerome Arnold on bass. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was born.

In 1965, after adding Mike Bloomfield and Mark Naftalin to the lineup, the group released its revolutionary self-titled debut album and ushered in a new era of young white blues bands such as the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead. Bishop stayed with Paul Butterfield Blues Band for three albums including the classic, “East-West” and 1967’s “The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw” before venturing out on his own. He moved to San Francisco and formed the Elvin Bishop Group while playing with Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

Tickets are $25 members, $28 non-member and are available at The Center Box Office. (530) 274-8384, ext. 14, or online at http://www.thecenterforthearts.org. Tickets are also available at BriarPatch Co-op. For information, go to http://www.thecenterforthearts.org or http://www.elvinbishopmusic.com.

The concert is at the Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St. in Grass Valley.


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