L-Roy & the Bulletproof Band | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

L-Roy & the Bulletproof Band 

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Although he hails from deep blues territory (he was born Leroy Perryman in Vance, Mississippi, in 1945, and grew up in nearby Clarksdale, where he performed locally before moving to Chicago in '66), L-Roy's gravelly baritone and ebullient stage presence call to mind Kansas City-style jazz shouters like Big Joe Turner and soul sophisticates like Lou Rawls and Jerry Butler. When he hits the stage the line between sincerity and showmanship dissolves; his ample repertoire of vocal tricks and techniques--lugubrious vibrato, glissandos, dips, soaring upper-register wails, and aching, tight-throated ascents--embellishes rather than masks his earnestness. L-Roy kicks off his version of Latimore's "Let's Straighten It Out" with a wry, disarming sermonette ("When you're dealing with the opposite sex, sooner or later something's gonna get crooked"), then plunges headlong into the song, his tremulous gasps and gargled moans evoking both carnal fervor and spiritual anguish. Even more flamboyant, but no less heartfelt, is his cover of Jessie Clay's good-timey "Mom's Apple Pie" (a hit for Tyrone Davis in '91): deepening his timbre to a full-bodied roar, L-Roy dashes from one side of the bandstand to the other, theatrically wipes his brow, twirls a towel over his head, and segues into an inspirational medley ("This Little Light of Mine" blending into a Sam Cooke-like arrangement of "If I Had a Hammer"). L-Roy has cut demos at various local studios over the years, but as yet no label has signed him--yet another indication that the Chicago blues recording industry's legendary star-finding machinery is in sad disrepair. Mondays, 9:30 PM, Linda's Lounge, 1044 W. 51st; 708-335-1271.

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