Due out Sept. 21 and the follow up to 2015's Perfectamundo, The Big Bad Blues is an 11-track collection of Gibbons originals and covers of songs by Muddy Waters and Bob Diddley, some played on a Gretsch Duo-Jet guitar Gibbons "dusted off" just for the sessions in Houston. The set takes a different stylistic tact than the Afro-Cuban flavor of Perfectamundo, which Gibbons says came at the suggestion of Concord Records chief John Burk. "We had such a nice success, surprisingly, with such an unusual release, and then (Burk) said to me, 'How would you feel about returning to some of your bluesier roots,'" Gibbons recalls. "I said, 'I think that'll be fine.' That's how we started, and we're still walking that line." Hitting the studio in Texas, Gibbons started playing for fun with drummer Greg Morrow and engineer Joe Hardy playing bass; Hardy had the temerity to record their jams, which put The Big Bad Blues in motion.
"It was really good, really natural," Gibbons says. "After about three days (Hardy) said, 'Would you like to hear some of the stuff?' I said, 'Well, what do you mean?' He said, 'I've been recording the whole outing.' That's where the Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley numbers came from. It felt pretty good so I got busy and started writing some originals, and all in all we think that we hit on something alright."
Gibbons will hit the road to promote The Big Bad Blues on Oct. 13 in Iowa with a "nice little outfit" that includes Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses, The Cult, Velvet Revolver) on drums. His solo work will, of course, work alongside ZZ Top, which is on the road through August but is also hatching plans for a 50th anniversary celebration during 2019. Gibbons says bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard have already presented him with some "starter pieces" they've been working on in the studio, while other ideas are being exchanged about how the group will commemorate its five-decade mark.
"It's such a rarity to find this, the same three guys playing the same three chords and you look up and say, 'Gee, it's 50 years!' That's pretty wild," Gibbons says. "I think it's cause for celebration. We'll certainly pull out all the stops. Furthermore, it gives us a good excuse to go back and relearn some of the stuff we're supposed to already know...."
Gibbons' full The Big Bad Blues Tour itinerary includes:
Oct-13 Riverside, IA Riverside Casino and Golf Resort
Oct-14 Prior Lake, MN Mystic Lake Casino – Showroom
Oct-16 Chicago, IL House of Blues
Oct-17 Columbus, OH The Bluestone
Oct-18 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
Oct-20 Wabash, IN Honeywell Center
Oct-21 Cleveland, OH Agora Ballroom
Oct-23 Kitchener, ON Centre in the Square
Oct-25 Derry, NH Tupelo Music Hall
Oct-26 Beverly, MA The Cabot Theater
Oct-28 Huntington, NY The Paramount
Oct-30 New York, NY Iridium Jazz Club
Oct-31 New York, NY Iridium Jazz Club
Nov-1 Washington, DC Pearl Street Warehouse
Nov-3 Pompano Beach, FL Pompano Beach Amphitheatre
Nov-5 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
Nov-6 Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues – Orlando
Nov-7 Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse
Nov-9 Houston, TX Revention Music Center
Nov-10 Fort Worth, TX Billy Bob’s Texas
Nov-11 San Antonio, TX Aztec Theater
Nov-15 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
Nov-16 Las Vegas, NV Brooklyn Bowl
Nov-18 West Hollywood, CA Troubadour