Guitarist Jimmy Johnson is one of those local blues treasures we sometimes take for granted. His smooth professionalism, polished musicianship, and versatility all combine to make him among the most perennially satisfying blues artists in Chicago. Johnson's expansive repertoire allows him to mostly avoid the war-horses and cliches that so many others use to fill in the spaces between their hits. He delights in bluesy arrangements of such diverse material as "Take Five," "Tobacco Road," and "Serves Me Right to Suffer" (a reworking of Percy Mayfield's classic "Memory Pain"), as well as his own witty, deceptively hard-hitting blues originals. His keening tenor is one of the most distinctive voices in all of blues, his improvisational imagination is among the liveliest on the scene, and he's gathered around him sidemen able to complement his delivery with just the right combination of slick musicianship and blues rawness. Wednesday, Wise Fools Pub, 2270 N. Lincoln; 929-1510.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Larry Kodani.