Denise LaSalle | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Denise LaSalle was an important figure on Chicago's soul scene in the late 60s and early 70s, releasing hits like "Trapped by a Thing Called Love," "Man Sized Job," and "Married, but Not to Each Other" on Westbound. But since then she's been based in the south--first in Memphis, then in Jackson, Tennessee--where she's become a leader in the ongoing fusion of blues, deep soul, and contemporary R & B into the pop hybrid now known as soul blues. In 2002, after years on the Malaco label, she released Still the Queen, her debut on the Memphis-based Ecko imprint. Even by blues standards LaSalle's stage act is raunchy: though she insists in one of her most popular songs that she's a "lady in the street / freaky in the bedroom," pretty much everything else she does seems to put the freaky side on display. She's been known to introduce her band by proclaiming, "Do they sound good? They fuck good, too--I auditioned 'em!" Still, she casts even her most profane routines in the context of sisterly solidarity, indicting men who think a woman should be glad just to "have a dick in the house." LaSalle insists that satisfying a partner--sexually and emotionally--is the first duty of a husband or a lover and exhorts that if a man isn't doing that, you need to "Drop that zero, and get yourself a hero!" So there's a certain ethic--if not exactly a conventional moral center--at work here. And obscenity in the service of simple justice is no vice. Chicago-based singer and guitarist Jo Jo Murray coheadlines. $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Saturday, July 31, 9 PM, East of the Ryan, 914 E. 79th; 773-488-1000.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Fraher.

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