West-side bluesman Johnny B. Moore was off the scene for so long that some wondered if he'd quit music entirely, but now he seems determined to reassert his presence in a big way. He has an upcoming CD on the Wolf label, and in his live performances he's again showing the creativity and imagination his admirers have raved about for years. Moore's command of genres is nothing short of astounding: on any given night he'll move effortlessly from modern funk-blues to a Delta classic, then fire off a spine-chilling slide piece a la Elmore James and conclude with a hard-grinding west-side lope, all the while chording behind his own leads as if he were playing two guitars at once. But Moore's improvisational skills go beyond physical and melodic dexterity: his tonal repertoire--from whispery intimacy to back-alley aggression--evokes an artistic and emotional spectrum unsurpassed among Chicago fretmen of his generation. As a singer he'll never threaten Bobby "Blue" Bland, but recently his voice has shown an encouraging authority and suppleness. Maybe he'll maintain his focus this time and finally build a career commensurate with his abilities. Thursday, February 16, 9:30 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/James Fraher.