Earl King | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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Earl King is a giant of New orleans R & B; his catalog of songs--written for himself and others--is one of the most extensive in the country. His 1955 "Those Lonely, Lonely Nights" helped define the easy-rolling Crescent City ballad style--minimally sentimental and infused with an unquenchable good-time vibe despite the ostensibly sorrowful subject matter. A few years later he came up with the timeless and irresistibly danceable "Well-O, Well-O, Well-O Baby"; then, in 1962, his "Trick Bag" became an instant funk-novelty classic. Mentored by Guitar Slim, King developed an in-the-groove, rhythmic style that features the guitar functioning as both a rhythm and lead instrument--between solos it fills the empty spaces between beats and often rides loosely on the bass line, like the horns in a parade band. Through the years King has earned a reputation for unpredictability, but he's never less than entertaining--and at his best he dispenses fun and revelry like an old-time hoodoo doctor passing out gris-gris. Saturday, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 427-0333 or 427-1190.

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

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