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Thursday, October 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Blues singer-guitarist Elvin Bishop brings new band to Pig Out

Elvin Bishop is joined by cajon player and singer Willy Jordan and guitarist/pianist Bob Welsh in Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio. (Pat Johnson)
Elvin Bishop is joined by cajon player and singer Willy Jordan and guitarist/pianist Bob Welsh in Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio. (Pat Johnson)

If he can help it, blues singer-songwriter and guitarist Elvin Bishop doesn’t mess with technology, including social media.

He even wrote a song about it.

“Don’t fool with no Facebook/No Twitters and tweets/Call me on the phone if you want to talk to me/I’m old school” he sings in “Old School,” from 2014’s “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right.”

His 29-year-old daughter helps him on the computer – “It’s good to know people in that age group because you get a little tech support or otherwise you get pretty helpless on the computer,” he said. – and his record company runs his Facebook and Twitter accounts, ironically set up after Bishop wrote “Old School.”

No, Bishop’s hobbies are much more low-tech. He’s an avid gardener who cans his own tomatoes, studies Japanese and sneaks in a little fishing when he can.

Then, of course, there’s music.

Bishop’s 54-year career has resulted in 20 studio albums, six live albums and three best of compilations. He spent the first few years of his career performing in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and has toured with the likes of B.B. King and the Allman Brothers Band.

But even then, Bishop stays away from computers, preferring to simply sit with his guitar and write.

“A pencil and paper is as high tech as I get with songwriting,” he said.

The latest addition to a long list of musical accomplishments finds the musician fronting Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio, which is performing Saturday as part of Pig Out in the Park.

Bishop, cajon player and singer Willy Jordan and guitarist-pianist Bob Welsh came together almost by accident after a jam session.

Though Bishop wasn’t originally thinking about creating a trio, the chemistry between the three was so great, he decided to see what they could do as a formal band.

“We sat down and I said ‘This is different. We don’t have a bass player, we don’t have a drummer, but it works. It’s fresh. Let’s do it,’ ” he said.

Welsh plays guitar in Bishop’s regular band, and Bishop has known Jordan for about 15 years after he sang harmony and played the congas on one of Bishop’s records. The musicians did their own thing over the years until the jam session brought them back together.

The trio’s self-titled album was released in February.

The album features seven original tunes, a remake of the title track of Bishop’s “Ace In the Hole” and four covers: Lightnin’ Hopkin’s “Honey Babe,” Fats Domino’s “Let The Four Winds Blow,” Sunnyland Slim’s “It’s You, Baby” and Bobby Womack’s “It’s All Over Now.”

Choosing which tunes to cover was a matter of trial and error for the trio.

“The ones that seemed to work, you keep those,” Bishop said. “The ones that don’t quite butter the biscuit, you leave them alone.”

An experienced musician, Bishop isn’t resting on his laurels when it comes to performing with the Big Fun Trio. He said playing with Jordan and Welsh keeps him on his toes, as there’s nowhere to hide.

“With the regular band, we’ve got seven or eight pieces. You can, at times, stand around with your thumb up your whatcha call it and listen to somebody play a solo, because there’s plenty of other stuff going on,” he said. “But with a trio, no such thing. You’ve got to be involved in it all the time … It’s a little bit of a challenge, but when you’re able to accomplish it, it makes you feel good.”

Bishop doesn’t yet know what his next release will entail, but he can see the Big Fun Trio releasing more music in the future.

For now, he’s excited to bring his new band to Spokane, a city he’s very familiar with.

“I’ve been coming there since dinosaurs roamed the area …” he said. “I like the people, and we’ll try our utmost to make sure everybody has a real good time.”

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