Johnny Dollar | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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A few years ago guitarist Johnny Dollar was one of Chicago's most popular and ubiquitous younger bluesmen. Lately he's been less visible outside of his west-side turf, but he's still among our finest. He can grind out the obligatory raw boogie patterns and fire off crowd-pleasing leads of slice-your-throat intensity, but he's also capable of a sophisticated funkiness that shows his debt to modern jazz-pop crossover artists like George Benson. His voice, which used to be one of the more seductive sounds in town, has become somewhat rheumy, but his stage presence remains the same: he can seduce you with his charms one minute then set you back on your heels with his crudity and street-tough signifying the next. Women tend to find this cool-but-dangerous routine either irresistibly exciting or insufferably macho; most of the men I've observed seem to derive guilty pleasure from identifying with it. Either way, Dollar remains one of the most versatile and talented of Chicago's all-too-well-kept blues secrets. Friday and Saturday, 9 PM, Lilly's, 2513 N. Lincoln; 525-2422.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marty Perez.

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