Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials 

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An exuberant guitar player and nephew of Chicago slide master J.B. Hutto, Lil' Ed Williams has churned out a host of party-blues discs for Alligator Records since the mid-80s. Rattleshake, the sixth and latest album he's recorded with his Blues Imperials, isn't as uniformly excellent as their best album, 1999's Get Wild!, but it gets over thanks to the breadth of its material, which ranges from the sublime (a moving rendition of Billy Joe Shaver's "Tramp on Your Street") to the unapologetically ridiculous (the novelty romp "Icicles in My Meatloaf"). While he's established a rep for his house-rockin' music, on "You Just Weren't There" and "Nobody's Fault but My Own" Williams proves he's mastered gut-wrenching slow blues as well. And his bottleneck playing, which takes inspiration from both Hutto and Elmore James, is pure joy to listen to. This show is a release party for Rattleshake. The Gents and Eric Noden open. Sat 8/5, 9 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash, 312-427-0333, $15.

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