Dr. John & Sunnyland Slim | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Dr. John & Sunnyland Slim

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This is one of the year's more intriguing bookings: Sunnyland Slim's traditional Delta piano, by turns easyrolling and propulsive, juxtaposed against Dr. John's churning New Orleans R & B and voodoo-tinged funk. Each man, in his own way, is a living repository of history: Sunnyland came of age in the prewar Delta, playing lumber camps, jukes, silent movie theaters, and parties until he hit Chicago in the 1940s and became a mainstay on the city's burgeoning blues scene. Dr. John, one of the most-requested session men in New Orleans during the 50s and early 60s, R & B's glory days, combines an abiding respect for the rich and varied New Orleans tradition with a feel for contemporary pop that's both funky and sophisticated. Between them they've got a good portion of what's important in 20th-century popular music covered. Sunnyland, by the way, had his 82nd birthday Tuesday. The celebration is Saturday, and the blues community will doubtless turn out in force to pay tribute to their reigning patriarch. Tonight and Saturday, B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera, 1124 W. Belmont; 525-8989.

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

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