Carey & Lurrie Bell | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Carey & Lurrie Bell 

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Chicago's Carey Bell learned his craft from postwar harmonica masters Little Walter and Big Walter Horton; he eventually worked with Willie Dixon, among others, and by the late 70s he was fronting groups of his own. One of those aggregations, a Bell family band sometimes billed as the Ding Dongs, featured his son Lurrie, who by then had already established himself as a promising young guitar player adept in styles ranging from rootsy shuffles to funky blues-R & B fusion. Within a few years, though, Lurrie began to suffer from mental illness; he eventually relinquished his spot in his father's band, gathering his resources for special projects and occasional tours. In 1991, while in Finland, the pair recorded an acoustic session that has just been released on Alligator as Second Nature. It's a wonder of musical synergy: Carey's sharp-toned squeals, lithe runs, and hornlike ululations prod and support Lurrie's gently propulsive chording and fleet leads, rooted in Delta-to-Chicago traditionalism but full of forward-looking melodic and harmonic ideas. Lurrie's health improved in the early aughts, allowing him to gig with his father again as well as with his own band, which will play with the Bells between the duo's acoustic segments on Saturday. Vocalist Sharon Lewis opens. $15. Saturday, September 11, 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/James Fraher.

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