Elvin Bishop Remembers Blues in the Era of Segregation on New Album

Elvin Bishop hasn't always been about the blues, but he's always been around the blues.

His new CD Can't Even Do Wrong Right personifies his career, which has usually focused on the blues, but often hit on many other genres of music.

Bishop loved the blues early enough that he went to college in the Chicago area just so he could be around the them.

"After a couple years, school got squeezed out by the blues," he tells New Times.

In the 1960s, Bishop joined the Paul Butterfield Band.

Bishop was one of the founding members of the Paul Butterfield Blues band. He said he was lucky to be working with those great musicians because it set a high bar for the quality of music for the rest of his career. Bishop said Butterfield was a talented guy and strong musician.

Bishop continues to be well-known in the blues world for his song "Blues Train."

The classic blues tunes continue on this CD, with songs including Little Walter's "Blues With a Feeling" and Jimmy Reed's "Honest I Do."

While Bishop has spent most of his career focusing on the blues, he is best-known for the 1976 pop song "Fooled Around and Feel in Love." That song made number three on the U.S. Billboard top 100 chart. You can't mention that song without thinking about Bishop. Mickey Thomas is one of two old friends who join Bishop on a couple songs of Can't Even Do Wrong Right. Thomas was the second guitarist on "Fooled Around and Feel in Love." Bishop said Thomas is the only one who could do these songs "just right."

The second old friend joining Bishop on "Can't Even Do Wrong Right" is blues harpist Charlie Musselwhite.

Can't Even Do Wrong Right also includes '50s doo-wop music with "Hey-Ba-Ba-Re-Bop" to the country porch tune "Bo Weevil." Bishop's country music is good enough that it has been noticed by Charlie Daniels who wrote about Bishop in his song "The South's Gonna Do It."

"Elvin Bishop sittin' on a bale of hay, he ain't good lookin' but he sure can play," the lyrics surmise.

Bishop said he makes people uncomfortable because he doesn't play just one genre of music. He plays blues, but he also plays gospel, old country, jazz and southern rock. Bishop said he might be getting old, but he likes to take the rough edges off.

The cover of the Can't Even Do Wrong Right is colorful and humorous showing a man in the middle, a woman in bed and another woman on the other side of him with a billy club. The artwork comes from Paul Thorne. Bishop said the old black comedy club of Skillet and Leroy made comedy albums which often dealt with a man getting caught in bed with the wrong chick.

While Bishop performs all types of music, he loves the blues because of its emotional impact. He said kids today are exposed to so much music between TV and Internet, but during his time it was a challenge to hear any music. Bishop said before the Civil Rights, white people didn't hear blues. When he first started listening to blues he would be the only white person in the joint. Bishop said back then the only way a white person would hear the blues was at a folk festival, since blues were considered part of folk music. He loved listening to Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. He remembers thinking, "This is where the good part of rock is coming from."

Can't Even Do Wrong Right is available at

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