"Big Voice" Odom, also known as B.B. Odom, has been a Chicago blues stalwart for nearly 30 years with his passionate, gospel-drenched vocals and flamboyantly emotional stage manner. He started out in the 60s with guitarist Earl Hooker, a master craftsman whose limited singing ability necessitated the inclusion of a strong vocalist like Odom on his shows. Shortly before Hooker's death in 1970, Odom struck out on his own; this appearance celebrates his "20th anniversary in show business" as a solo act. Odom sometimes gets repetitive--his repertoire isn't the broadest, and he never keeps a band together long enough to develop much new material. But he's always entertaining, and often more: he builds his songs like an architect, starting low and culminating in a series of sanctified rave-up choruses that can leave the audience as sweat-drenched and satiated as he. The centerpiece of his show, though, is Odom's "Memo Blues." Based on the famous chord structure of Little Walter's "Last Night," it's an eloquent ode to a departed bluesman that can stun a full house into silence and move jaded nightclub veterans to tears. Sunday, Checkerboard Lounge, 423 E. 43rd; 624-3240.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Fraher.