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Critic's Choice/ music


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Louisiana Red can encapsulate the Delta-to-Chicago blues diaspora with a few shimmering strokes of slide guitar; his unusual tunings and edge-of-chaos harmonies hark back to real rural roots, and his vocals can attain a larynx-ripping intensity--but it's his lyrics that really set him apart. His stories range from harrowing descriptions of the traumas he's endured to surreal bits of free association: in "Story of Louisiana Red," he recounts witnessing his father's lynching by the KKK and then pleads, "I'm beggin' you people / Please don't kill me no more"; and in the only slightly less terrifying "Red's Dream" he embarks on a one-man foreign-policy rampage, threatening to give Castro a "Georgia shave" and use Khrushchev's pate for a baseball, then finally takes over the Hill and installs the likes of Ray Charles and Big Maybelle as senators. As a performer Red can swing unpredictably from ebullience to brooding inscrutability, but when the moment is right few can match his fusion of musical precision and uncompromising honesty. This is Red's first U.S. appearance in ages--he's lived in Germany for about 15 years now--and there's no telling when he'll pass this way again. He shares the bill with Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones, a Detroit-based guitarist and harpist who plays an arresting mix of traditional 12-bar blues and contemporary soul. Saturday, 10 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333. DAVID WHITEIS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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