Big Jack Johnson | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Big Jack Johnson 

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Big Jack Johnson is best known as the guitarist of the Jelly Roll Kings, the rough-and-tumble little juke band that played in the movie Crossroads and has enjoyed increasing national popularity in recent years. Johnson's music has the emotional intensity of classic Delta blues, offset by an irrepressible, lighthearted sense of fun. His guitar style is fleet and melodic, incorporating the eccentric influence of Hubert Sumlin as well as his own distinctive improvisational imagination. Since setting out on his own, Johnson has expanded his music: although Jelly Roll Kings harp man Frank Frost will put in a guest appearance on this show, Johnson's own band features two horns and a complete blues rhythm section anchored by Kings drummer Sam Carr. This allows Johnson to explore a wider emotional range than he could in the primal three-piece setting of the Kings. But make no mistake: Jack Johnson remains a dedicated Mississippi bluesman; this is the way they do it down home. Tonight, B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera, 1124 W. Belmont; 525-8989.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): pohoto/David Whiteis.

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