Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Detroit Junior

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Veteran keyboardist Detroit Junior likes to present himself as something of a novelty act: he sports outlandish turbans and glittery suits and grinds his hips and mugs for the audience. But beneath the showmanship lies savvy: he's among the blues' wittiest songwriters. His best lyrics ("If I Hadn't Been High," "Call My Job") portray the singer as a lovable rogue who tries to live by the restrictions of respectable society but inevitably falls prey to his own insatiable appetites. Detroit's keyboard work is a somewhat elemental but hard-driving combination of 60s-style Chicago blues boogie and splay-fingered, triplet-laden rock and roll. His over-the-top sense of humor can be both a blessing and a curse: his shows have been known to collapse into chaos, and his usual remedy is to try to push things even farther, as if attempting to find an escape route out the other side. But when he manages to keep his excesses in check, Detroit Junior's madcap extrapolations on classic blues can provide some of the most subversive entertainment in Chicago. Friday and next Friday, March 25, 6-10:30 PM, Underground Wonder Bar, 10 E. Walton; 266-7761.

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

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