Pops Staples | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Pops Staples 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

It may be cute to call pop singers "geezers" once they're past 35, but it's not mere age that rots the geezer--it's the excesses of fame. If one maintains a solid sense of purpose and remembers that music, not fame, is what matters, the creative flame can survive. Perhaps this is what has enabled Chicago's Roebuck "Pops" Staples, the 79-year-old patriarch of the Staple Singers, to stay fresh throughout a 60-year career that has ranged from his family's gloriously raw 1950s roots-gospel recordings on the local Vee-Jay label (four soaring voices backed only by Pops's tremolo/reverb guitar and a snare played with brushes) to their string of inspirational crossover hits on Stax in the 1970s. His recent solo CD, the wonderfully edgy Father Father, draws fruitfully on both these periods; we get plenty of funky shouts (two featuring his daughters) as well as some pensive tunes spotlighting Pops's bluesy moan and swampy guitar picking. One song, the remarkable "Simple Man," is about a well-meaning fellow who's led by down-home common sense to advocate a horrific sort of vigilante "justice" ("Take them rascals down to the swamp / Put 'em on their knees and tie 'em to a stump / Let the birds and the rats and the alligators do the rest"), and who--since he has heartfelt reasons for what he says--isn't likely to have his mind changed by self-righteous liberals who simply stereotype him as a dumb, evil redneck. You certainly don't have to be religious to appreciate Staples's knowing commentary on why today's shrill, antagonistic sociopolitical "debate" seems to be going nowhere. At this free event Staples will perform and be interviewed by Reader contributing photographer James Fraher. Friday, 4 PM, auditorium, Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State; 747-4850.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Paul Natkin.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Renaldo Migaldi

  • The List: July 22-28, 2010

    The List: July 22-28, 2010

    Critics' Choices and other notable shows: Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet, Juana Molina, Struck by Lightning, David Dondero, Natacha Atlas, and more
    • Jul 22, 2010
  • A Son of Sun

    A Son of Sun

    It's been 50 years since he recorded at Sam Phillips's legendary studio and more than 30 since he quit music to drive a limo, but rockabilly pioneer Hayden Thompson is getting back into the business.
    • Nov 29, 2007
  • Thomas E. Ricks

    • Sep 28, 2006
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Peter Pan Mercury Theater Chicago
November 17
Performing Arts
Blue Man Group Briar Street Theatre
August 14

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories