Chris Cain | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chris Cain 

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California-based bluesman Chris Cain clearly takes after the late Albert King: his guitar playing invokes King's fusion of muscularity and tenderness, and like King he can build a solo from a slow boil to an all-out scream without losing control of the song. But Cain is equally capable of laying down fleet, Kenny Burrell-style patterns over a funk-jazz backing or skittering playfully atop a singsong pop melody, and he sings in a clear, plaintive baritone that's far more supple than King's gruff vocal attack, but no less emotionally textured. He's also a superb songwriter: several tracks on his most recent album, Hall of Shame (Blue Rock'it, 2003), rival the work of master craftsmen like Doc Pomus. The title tune is a meditation on human frailty set to moody pop-gospel; in "Feel the Chill," a no-money, no-woman lament, he delivers hard-bitten lines like "Heard that the world is cold / I believe I'm startin' to feel a chill." In a genre filled with testosterone-addled blooze boys masquerading as men, Cain's music is resolutely and soulfully adult. Doug McDonald opens. Sat 4/23, 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash, 312-427-0333, $15.

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