JIMMY BURNS | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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JIMMY BURNS

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From the 50s into the 70s, this guitarist and singer performed in doo-wop, folk, and soul acts (his 60s and 70s discs on USA, Tip Top, and other local soul labels are collectors' items). That kind of resume might make you wonder if Burns isn't just a stylistic opportunist, but it's helped give his blues work--his primary output for nearly 30 years now--the range that's its strongest suit. His well-tempered baritone can sound alternately vulnerable and harsh, and his guitar playing combines the pop-tinged jauntiness of his soul days with a pungently bluesy mix of declamatory chords and sharp-toned, string-bending leads. He's been making records for Delmark since 1996, and while the latest, Live at B.L.U.E.S. (for which I wrote the liner notes), focuses on mainstream modern-day blues, there are also some rootsy flashbacks ("Miss Annie Lou," "Country Boy in the City") and savory dollops of fatback soul ("No Consideration"). It's all held together by Burns's ebullient personality and unassuming craftsmanship. He's got a regular engagement Wednesdays at Kingston Mines; see separate Treatment item for details. a 9:30 PM, B.L.U.E.S., 2519 N. Halsted, 773-528-1012, $10.

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