Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

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Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown sometimes seems bent on packing elements of every imaginable facet of American black popular music into each set, in a kind of Texas roadhouse version of the eclectic dilettantism of Taj Mahal. But beneath the occasionally jarring musical shifts--from blues to country swing to bluegrass to hillbilly to funk--lies one of the liveliest and most sophisticated musical imaginations at work today. Gate's refusal to be pigeonholed simply reflects his affection for the varied cultural and musical influences he--and most other southern musicians--grew up with, and he never strays entirely from his blues roots. Fleet-fingered and adventurous on both guitar and fiddle, he carries sidemen capable of following him everywhere his flights of fancy dictate, and who share his apparently unrelenting enthusiasm for a wide range of musical styles. Although fans who want to see a "pure" blues show might be disappointed in the eclecticism and Gate's flair for slick showmanship, those wanting to see a soulful craftsman capable of weaving apparently disparate elements into a surprisingly cohesive musical whole are in for a special treat. And you can dance to it. Saturday, B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera, 1124 W. Belmont; 525-8989.

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