Eugene Chadbourne & Jimmy Carl Black | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Eugene Chadbourne & Jimmy Carl Black

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There still are times when I find it difficult to listen to Eugene Chadbourne. His stubborn insistence on playing the clown can seem the most infuriatingly adolescent put-on; his frantic jumps from idea to idea can seem an inability to stick with one inspiration and develop it. But if you're in the mood to keep up with Chadbourne's cartoonishly anarchic muse, you can hear his jumble of noise gradually resolve into an aggregate sculptural texture that really sounds like music rather than some asshole's overclever attempt at originality. Like a musical Jonathan Winters, Chadbourne free-associates as fast as light. His Rabelaisian mirth is more than an entertainment hook; it's also his way of poking good-natured fun at the sort of bloodless avant-garde geeks who prefer their music "interesting" rather than musical. And you certainly don't have to listen very hard to his loopy, lightning-fast guitar and banjo playing to hear a profound debt to down-home country and blues. Locked in a Dutch Coffeeshop, Chadbourne's new album with Jimmy Carl Black (original drummer in Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention), features several numbers recorded live in Europe, including such oddities as a three-song Captain Beefheart medley and a beautifully pointless rendition of Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man." Chadbourne still slips in the occasional dig at the American political right (sampled voices of Patrick Buchanan and Richard Nixon pop up here and there), but for the most part he and Black sound primarily concerned with remembering how to have an intelligent good time in a world that grows more frightening every day. Friday and Saturday, 10 PM, Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666.

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