Johnny "Clyde" Copeland | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Johnny "Clyde" Copeland 

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Guitarist Johnny "Clyde" Copeland is sometimes billed as the "Texas Twister." That gives a good indication of his high energy, but it might be misleading in terms of his style. Copeland isn't just a tear-down-the-walls partier but also an artist of emotional depth; beneath his joyful sound lurks a seriousness of purpose reminiscent of Percy Mayfield. Copeland's leads, shimmering and extended, weave their way through blues changes and more complex pop-blues creations alike with a combination of bluesy fire and tender expressiveness, and his voice is often closer to the gritty croon of a soul balladeer than a blues shouter. His songs range from good-time blasts of bacchanalian celebration ("Texas Party") to gut-wrenching blues testifying ("Cut Off My Right Arm") to thoughtful meditations on such unlikely subjects as humility in the face of greatness ("A Greater Man"). Through everything he remains steadfastly in the blues tradition even as he coaxes, prods, and expands upon it. Tonight, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 N. Wabash; 427-0333 or 427-1190.

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

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