It's nice to know there's still room for low-key, tasteful presentations like this one in today's frenetic blues environment. The Ice Cream Men, featuring WBEZ blues deejay Steve Cushing on drums, are an earnest group of young aficionados dedicated to preserving traditional Chicago blues and showcasing the living representatives of that legacy. Smokey Smothers, an unreconstructed 50s-style guitarist, maintains the music's Delta roots with his moody finger picking and loping rhythms but adds a touch of big-city anarchy when he pulls out his slide and coaxes his leads into a trembling upper-register wail. Over the music he sings laconically, in the Jimmy Reed "mushmouth" style. Guitarist and bassist Jimmy Lee Robinson is the originator of "All of My Life," the 1962 recording on Bandera that John Mayall covered a few years later. Robinson accompanied Eddie Taylor, Freddie King, and many other Chicago greats; his own recordings were characterized by a dramatic fusion of intensity, tasteful musicianship, and endearing eccentricity. There'll be no booze-and-boogie revelry here--just unpretentious blues delivered by artists of uncompromising musical and emotional honesty. Wednesday, Wise Fools Pub, 2270 N. Lincoln; 929-1510.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Fraher.