Eddie & Jimmy Burns | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Eddie & Jimmy Burns 

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You'd never know it from the graceful symmetry they achieve on 2002's Snake Eyes (Delmark), but brothers Eddie and Jimmy Burns seldom played together until a few years ago. Eddie was born in Belzoni, Mississippi, in 1928 and has lived in Detroit since 1948. He's best known for his work with John Lee Hooker, first on harmonica (in the late 40s on Sensation) and later on guitar (those are his leads snaking through "I'm in the Mood" and "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer" on Hooker's seminal mid-70s album The Real Folk Blues). He also recorded on his own between the late 40s and the mid-60s, including some sessions on the Harvey label with a young Marvin Gaye on drums. In the mid-70s he cut some acoustic sides for the "revivalist" market, but more recently he's returned to his urban sound for the Blue Suit label. Jimmy, born in Dublin, Mississippi, in 1943, migrated to Chicago in the mid-50s. His resume is diverse: he sang doo-wop with the Medallionaires in the 50s; a few years later he purveyed acoustic pop folk and calypso in north-side folk clubs. He also led soul bands and recorded for local R & B labels, and by the late 70s he was grinding out 12-bar blues on the west side. His 90s-era Delmark discs showcase his ability to blend styles without sounding dilettantish. Snake Eyes is credited to Eddie, but the brothers' talents combine to make it a success. Eddie's leads are sparse and clear, his boxlike patterns wedded closely to each chord in a progression; Jimmy's longer lines extend deeper into a tune's harmonic structure, and his crisp chords prod his brother's more stripped-down rhythmic notions with off-time punctuations and accents. Friday, May 23, 9:30 PM, and Saturday, May 24, 10 PM, Rosa's Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage; 773-342-0452.

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