|Make Your Way to the Front Porch for Stellar Blues|
|Music - Feature Stories|
|Tuesday, 29 October 2002 18:00|
Get ready for some great blues coming to the Adler Theater on Monday, November 4. Billed as the “Front Porch Blues” show, the stellar lineup includes Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Henry Butler, Corey Harris, and Deborah Coleman.
Elvin Bishop moved from Oklahoma to Chicago at 17 to attend college. After immersing himself in the blues scene, he dropped out of school after two years. He played with Hound Dog Taylor for a brief period. As Elvin says, “Hound Dog needed a guitarist who knew the great Freddie King instrumental ‘Hideaway.’” Eventually he joined Paul Butterfield to form one of the best white blues bands at that time. He went on his own in 1968 and has been fronting one of the most entertaining blues bands ever since. He plays some of the tastiest slide guitar around and always has a top-flight band. His sense of humor is evident in his songs, and the patter between tunes is almost as entertaining as the music.
Check out his songs “Slow Down” or “My Dog.” the first is a hilarious take on getting old – can I ever relate to that. He is advocating switching from alcohol to Geritol, and getting off the cocaine and onto the Rogaine. The second song is a tribute to his canine friend who knows the way home when he’s drunk and stoned. Pretty handy friend to have on those nights when sound judgment takes a backseat to good times.
Charlie Musselwhite moved from Memphis to Chicago in the 1960s to get a better-paying job. After getting a chance to play with most of the greats from that era, including Furry Lewis, Little Walter, Big Walter (Shakey) Horton, Carey Bell, and even Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller), he went on to record his first album in 1967. I discovered him around 1970, and he’s been my favorite harp player ever since. He plays straight-ahead Chicago blues with great skill, and his rough-hewn vocals are the perfect match for the instrumentation. I saw Charlie last month, and he and his band are at the top of their game. A special tip of the lid goes out to his keyboardist, who shined on both piano and organ. Great stuff!
New Orleans singer-pianist Henry Butler and Denver-based singer-guitarist Corey Harris have formed a powerful bond. Henry started playing at six, took piano lessons at the Louisiana State School for the Blind, and started playing clubs at 14. His soaring vocals and virtuoso piano-playing run the gamut from soul to R&B to gospel to jazz to blues. I had the pleasure of seeing his piano skills from about one foot away when I held his microphone during his set at the Mississippi Valley Blues Fest in 1994. He was stomping his feet so hard it loosened the microphone-holder to the point of being useless. Unreal!
Corey Harris plays both Delta- and Piedmont-style blues, and he can match Henry in the vocal department. No small feat! Between the two men there is an almost unmatched amount of styles and chops. Somehow they make it all work. I’ve been listening to a bootleg of their show from last year’s fest (don’t ask me how I got it), and it is loaded with good-time music, great vocals, and unsurpassed musicianship.
Deborah Coleman started on guitar when she was eight and debuted professionally on bass at 15. In 1993 she won the Charleston (South Carolina) Blues Festival’s National Talent Search. Part of the prize package was free studio time. She parlayed that into a record deal in 1995. I’ve only seen her once (as opposed to numerous times for all the other performers) but was very impressed. She has a strong voice and can play the guitar with the best of them. She is sure to please, and it’s great to have at least one woman on the bill. Needless to say, from my perspective, she’s the most visually appealing artist in this bunch.
If there is any way you can make this show, get off your rusty-dusty, get your tickets, and show up at the Adler Theater on Monday for a great night of blues. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Tickets to Front Porch Blues are $21.50 and available from the Adler Theatre box office. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.
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