Eric "Guitar" Davis & the Troublemakers | B.L.U.E.S. | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader

Eric "Guitar" Davis & the Troublemakers Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Thu., Dec. 30, 9:30 p.m. 2010

Most modern rock-styled "blooze" guitarists leave me cold, if not nauseated, but occasionally a hot-blooded pyrotechnician like Eric "Guitar" Davis manages to imbue the usual fusillades with genuine musical merit. Even at his most intense, Davis plays with a clear tone that reveals the logic behind his mercurial flights—he packs a dense cluster of notes into a bar or two, deepening the texture and raising the heat, then unravels them with a purposefulness that's both assaultive and precise. His debut, 2007's Here Comes Trouble (Young Blues), showcases his gift for plunging into chaos while keeping a steady hand on the rudder. The instrumental "Bill n' Jean" borrows structural and harmonic ideas from Van Morrison's "Moondance," and its extended, chord-heavy solo owes a surprising debt to jazz stylists like Wes Montgomery even as it seethes and roils with Davis's trademark fire. Despite an occasional overreliance on self-congratulatory "I'm a bluesman" proclamations, he's equally admirable as a wordsmith: "I'll Make Mincemeat Outa U" grafts hip-hop machismo onto a blues framework, and the witty "I Can't Chance the Pain" transports vintage and modern blues tropes (the phrase "bad moon rising," a night of passion set in a "Hideaway Hotel") into a contemporary urban setting that's particular to Davis. If the blues is to remain relevant, it'll take artists like this to make it happen. Davis performs with his band, the Troublemakers. —David Whiteis

Price: $10

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