Clarence Fountain & the Five Blind Boys of Alabama | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Clarence Fountain & the Five Blind Boys of Alabama 

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The Five Blind Boys of Alabama aren't quite as well-known as the original Five Blind Boys, a Mississippi-based gospel group formed by Archie Brownlee in the 1940s, but they go back almost as far and are capable of creating the same spirit-elevating excitement. Lead singer and founder Clarence Fountain exhorts and proclaims his faith in a gritty voice that's been compared to Wilson Pickett; mixing European choral harmonies with African American cadences and intonation, the Boys still perform their standards (including their original big hit from 1949, "I Can See Everybody's Mother but Mine,") and have updated their repertoire to include modern spirituals and even the occasional secular R & B number ("Steal Away"). But they've never forsaken the joyous spirit of dedication that's informed their music from the beginning. As for the incongruity of the venue--it's up to you whether you can deal with the conflict between the sacred and the profane, but I'd recommend just going with it. Tonight, B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera, 1124 W. Belmont; 525-8989.

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