Drink Small | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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South Carolina guitarist Drink Small--raconteur, songster, and showman--looks and sounds as if he just stepped off the stage of an old-time traveling medicine show. He bills himself as "The Blues Doctor," and his persona is a combination of avuncular warmth, carefully crafted musical expression, and flimflam (he boasts of using 14--count 'em!--different blues-guitar techniques in an eccentric stylistic gumbo he calls "Drinkism"). However, Small is more than a quaint relic: he's a master at improvising lyrics in live performance, and his gifts as a storyteller are nearly as impressive as his musicianship. In turn ribald and poignant, irreverent and philosophical, Small creates a world of fantasy and delight, made all the more inviting by the ebullience of his personality. His repertoire runs the gamut from quirky novelty numbers ("I'm in Love With a Grandma") to clear-eyed paeans to hard times and rough traveling, and his meditations on sexual politics fuse politically incorrect audacity with unassailable country wisdomthey can leave both feminists and rogues wondering what hit them for weeks afterward. Friday and Saturday, Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.

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