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Eric Bibb Plays 'Booker's Guitar'

A few years ago, blues guitarist Eric Bibb was approached by a fan carrying a guitar case. In that guitar case was a 1930s vintage Resophonic National guitar once belonging to blues legend Booker White. White's cousin, B.B. King, once called the instrument the "holy relic." Bibb persuaded the fan to lend him the guitar, then used it on a record inspired by prewar Delta blues. The album is appropriately called Booker's Guitar.

Booker's Guitar is a culmination of everything Bibb has studied. He says his mission, however, was not to merely mimic the guitar sounds of his heroes.

"My calling was to create new material that was inspired by old material, and really continue the acoustic blues tradition in my own way," Bibb says.

Bibb's inspiration is the culture that surrounded the Delta blues legends. He describes tapping into the "righteous anger" that many of these musicians must have felt in the face of racism and intolerance.

"When we think of the prewar blues, we're concentrating on this wonderful music — this incredible sound born of all this pain and oppression," he says. "As a musician who feels connected to the blues tradition, I felt it was appropriate to make a reference to those things."

While Bibb is most often categorized as a blues musician, he resists the confines of that label. Many of his heroes, including Big Bill Broonzy and Leadbelly, crossed boundaries in their music.

"Folk music to me is blues," he says. "Blues is folk music."

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