Eddie C. Campbell, Cash Box Kings | Buddy Guy's Legends | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader

Eddie C. Campbell, Cash Box Kings Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., May 29, 9 p.m. 2009

Guitarist Eddie C. Campbell approaches the blues with a blend of deadly seriousness and flamboyant humor. Though his deep-pocket shuffles and sparse, emotionally fraught leads resonate with the primal power of the best postwar Chicago blues, his lyrics are often laced with slapstick antics and borderline surrealism—but after all, this is the same guy who, at 12 years old, taught himself to play well enough to sit in with Muddy Waters, then went on to pick up karate and tool around the west side on a purple motorcycle. Campbell’s new album, Tear This World Up (Delmark), perfectly captures his dual persona: the sometimes soulful, sometimes sardonic blues storyteller. On the Magic Sam numbers “Easy Baby” and “Love Me With a Feeling” he sounds focused and serious as he wields his keening, linear solos and sinewy baritone voice in tribute to an old friend and mentor, and he brings a similar workmanlike dedication to the original instrumentals “It’s So Easy” and “All Night.” But on songs like “Big World,” “Voodoo,” and “Makin’ Popcorn,” he contorts notes and phrases into unearthly shapes and spins tales full of sexual high jinks, pseudo-portentous weirdness, and imagery so kaleidoscopic it seems almost out of control. The Cash Box Kings open; Matt Hendricks plays a free acoustic set from 5:30 till 8 PM. —David Whiteis

Price: $15

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