Carl Wethersby | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Carl Wethersby

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CARL WEATHERSBY

Born in Mississippi and raised in East Chicago, guitarist Carl Weathersby has the chops and fire of a post-Hendrix fretman, but his roots extend back to an earlier, less frenetic era. As a young man he apprenticed himself to Albert King, whose fusion of fiery string-bending aggression and subtle tonal expressiveness made an early and lasting impression on him; he put in some time as King's rhythm guitarist between 1979 and 1982. Later in 1982 Weathersby joined Billy Branch's Sons of Blues, and for the next 14 years his eclectic virtuosity helped define that band's sound. Distilling influences from the postwar era through soul, funk, rock, and beyond, the SOBs were an important force in updating the Chicago blues tradition--soulful and hard-hitting, danceable and musically diverse, and in tune with contemporary urban African-American sensibilities. In front of his own group Weathersby tends more toward high-energy, high-volume intensity than the subtle pop and jazz nuances he brought to the SOBs. But even at his most heated, he seldom leaves taste or musicianship behind. Friday, 9:30 PM, Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage; 773-342-0452. Sunday, 9 PM, B.L.U.E.S., 2519 N. Halsted; 773-538-1012. Tuesday through Thursday, 8:30 PM, and next Friday and Saturday, July 18 and 19, 10:30 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): Carl Weathersby photo by James Fraher.

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