Garland Green | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Garland Green's career exemplifies the paradox of plying one's trade in a "golden age": sometimes there are so many second-tier talents riding the cultural tide that exceptionally gifted artists get pushed below the waterline. Born in Dunleith, Mississippi, in 1942, the soul singer arrived in Chicago in the late 50s. In the 60s, the heyday of the Chicago "soft soul" sound, he was discovered singing at an amateur show by deejay Mel Collins and his wife, songwriter Joshie Jo Armstead, who signed him to their Gamma label; he was eventually picked up by MCA. The lilting melody and sugared strings of his biggest hit, 1969's "Jealous Kind of Fella," bespeak a sparkling teen-dream innocence that's undercut by the ominous desperation of Green's vocals as he pleads, "Please don't be too mad at me because I punched that guy last night....I let my jealousy go straight to my head." But there's a genuine vulnerability to his tremulous moans and breathy drop-offs on 1971's "Plain and Simple Girl," and he delivers party anthems like 1974's "Let the Good Times Roll" with life-affirming ebullience. Recent outings like a cover of Bobby Womack's "If You Think You're Lonely Now" on the 2001 compilation Soul Grooves (I.T.P.) show that his dusky baritone is as expressive as ever, and his trademark emotional intensity only enhanced by an increasingly rough timbre. For this show, Green, L.C. Pierce, and L.T. McGee will each be backed by the Jimmy Pryor Band, which will play on its own as well. Saturday, March 6, 8 PM, Bossman Blues Center, 3500 W. Lake; 773-722-8744.

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