For most of his career, guitarist Arthur Adams has taken his opportunities where he's found them. In 1959, when an aborted tour with soul singer Gene Allison's band stranded him in Dallas, the Tennessee native settled there, gigging around town and cutting singles of his own. In '64 he moved to Los Angeles, where he recorded for Modern and took whatever odd jobs came his way: session work with everyone from Sonny Bono to Lou Rawls to Nancy Wilson, a musical cameo in a TV movie, even a spot in the house band on a TV show hosted by a former NFL tackle. Adams had several more releases under his own name over the next decade or so, including four LPs of funky soul in the 70s, but he failed to build a career for himself as a front man. Since the late 80s, though, he's been playing straight-ahead blues, and he throws himself into the music with the zest of a man who's found his true calling after a lifetime of trial and error. In 1999 Adams released Back on Track (Blind Pig), his first album in 20 years and essentially his recording debut as a bluesman. He wrote or cowrote eight of the eleven songs, and over the course of the album he puts a personal stamp on funky soul blues ("Honda Betty"), high-octane blues rock ("Good Good Good"), and gospel blues balladry ("You Really Got It Going On"). "The Rehabilitation Song," set to a run-of-the-mill 12-bar stop-time cadence, transcends the ordinary with its frank, naturalistic lyrics, in which a recovering addict begs his family to give him one more chance; on the low-key ballad "The Long Haul," Adams fortifies his distinctive, velvety voice with restrained emotional heat. He's strong enough to be gentle, and confident enough to sing from his heart--rather than bludgeon his listeners with pyrotechnics and machismo, he simply radiates power. Friday, July 13, 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Pat Johnson.