Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker at The Barby, Tel Aviv

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There are some nights that you wish would never end, that the music would go on forever and everyone would keep on dancing while Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker sings and plays the guitar, rocking the blues. Anything I write about last night’s concert at the Barby is going to sound like hyperbole, but the 79-year-old blues guitarist is truly larger than life! A tall man in an elegant white suit, sporting a curly black wig, dancing on the stage with an electric guitar – it sounds surreal, but Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker is as real as it gets. This man is the blues, electric blues that sings in a voice that’s coming from a place so deep it feels eternal, and a rhythm that dances.

Robert 'Bilbo' Walker/Photo: Ayelet Dekel
Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

There were seats set out in the club, but as soon as Bilbo started singing, people got up to dance, and the room was grooving ’cause his mojo is working! He is one of those amazing, generous performers who can just give and give, and the more he gives, it seems the more he has to give. His rapport with the audience was incredible, warm and intimate, as if he was singing directly to each person in the room. The enthusiastic audience didn’t want to let him leave the stage, clapping and shouting for him to come back – and he did, for two encores!

Onstage with Bilbo were two terrific Israeli musicians – Yehu Yaron on bass and Aviv Barak on drums. Although I knew that they met just the day before, they played like they had been playing together forever, onstage having fun. Opening for this show were Radio Trip (Ofer ‘Schoolmaster’ Tal and Uri ‘Mixmonster’ Wertheim), who got everyone in the mood with a bluesy, DJ set.

Bilbo plays the guitar as if it was part of his body, sings as easy as he breathes – he comes alive onstage, magnificent, this is what he was born to do. Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker live onstage is an exhilarating experience, music flows through him like an electric current, charging him with energy – an amazing overflowing energy that fills the room. Hearing his music in the weeks and days before the concert, my expectations were high. Last night at the Barby – Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker exceeded my highest expectations – what an amazing night, what an amazing musician!

Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker will be performing one more concert in Israel – tonight, September 7th at The Yellow Submarine, Jerusalem. Here’s the link to the facebook event.