West-side vocalist Mary Lane came of age in the 50s, the heyday of Chicago blues, performing with the likes of Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and Elmore James as well as her late husband, vocalist-guitarist Morris Pejoe. Her style has changed little since then: she eschews frills, digging into the bone and sinew of the blues with knifelike emotional directness. Untainted by pop, soul, or even R & B influence, Lane's straight-ahead wail harks back to primal blues architects like Memphis Minnie, and her stolid stage presence is a far cry from the flirtatiousness or bathetic emotionalism so fashionable among modern blueswomen. Listeners raised on more histrionic contemporary styles may need time to acclimate themselves to this unnuanced boldness, but Lane's worth the effort: her current release on the Chicago-based Noir label, Appointment With the Blues, shows that she's lost none of her gutsy urgency, as she runs roughshod over a grinding west-side shuffle with the confidence of a hard-bitten blues survivor. Friday and Saturday, 9:30 PM, Metropole Lounge, Fairmont Hotel, Illinois Center, 200 N. Columbus; 312-565-8000 or 312-559-1212. DAVID WHITEIS
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Mary Lane photo/ uncredited.