Shemekia Copeland, Marty Sammon Band | City Winery | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader
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Shemekia Copeland

Shemekia Copeland

Mike White

Shemekia Copeland, Marty Sammon Band 

When: Sun., Dec. 20, 8 p.m. 2015
Price: sold out
Shemekia Copeland has developed from a blues shouter teeming with raw power into a stylist of subtlety and nuance. And she’s done it without sacrificing any of her intensity. Her recently released Outskirts of Love (Alligator) features the expected bluesy paeans to erotic infatuation—she covers the straight-ahead 12-bar-blues of Albert King’s “Wrapped Up in Love Again,” for instance—but she also takes on more urgent contemporary themes: from homelessness on “Cardboard Box” to soul-killing loneliness on the title track to date rape and its payback on “Crossbone Beach,” which features a surrealistic guitar break from Robert Randolph that invokes the psychic terror and dissolution being suffered by the protagonist. Still Copeland emerges hopeful and unbowed on healing anthems like “Lord, Help the Poor and Needy” from the late Jessie Mae Hemphill and Mo Rodgers’s “The Battle Is Over (But the War Goes On).” She negotiates a complex melodic and emotional terrain: her unfettered roar remains among the most thrilling in contemporary blues, and her ability to fuse vulnerability with toughness and grit—most evident on the aforementioned “Crossbone”—is both riveting and inspiring.
— David Whiteis



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