Blue Eyed Blues: Down to the Bottom | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Blue Eyed Blues: Down to the Bottom 

Blue Eyed Blues: Down to the Bottom, at Gerri's Palm Tavern. When you get down to it, Blue Eyed Blues is all about the music--the blues and who can play it right. Written and directed by Fernando Jones, this 60-minute show centers on three young suburban musicians who venture into the city to hear some blues masters play. While waiting to get into a club, they argue among themselves and play a few tunes of their own in a nearby alley. The Ole Man and two musicians from the club deride their musical efforts, pointing out that these fresh-faced kids "have no reason or right to sing the blues."

As the nay-saying musicians, Marvin Gilbert and Mike Brown have the attitude and patter down, but Richard Reed trumps them both as the smoothly confident Ole Man. Still, no one in this cast is a great actor--this is primarily an ensemble of musicians who convey anger by raising their voices and confusion or fear by contorting their faces. They don't back up any of the characters' emotions with real feeling.

The script lacks subtlety. All the conflicts between the Ole Man and the "boy" who leads the musicians--all the characters' disagreements over race and who really knows the blues--are handled predictably. The intermittent musical numbers are what redeem the show--the tempo picks up substantially whenever talented musicians Dan Beaver, Louis Hamric, Lizbeth Silva, and guest Marilynn Claire start to play. --Jenn Goddu

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