Kenny Neal | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Louisiana-born guitarist Kenny Neal is one of the most exciting of the bold new generation of musicians who've been redefining the boundaries of blues expression in the 80s and 90s. Son of Baton Rouge harp legend Raful Neal, Kenny has incorporated his father's deep blues feeling and clarity of expression and fired it up with a young man's restless desire to explore. The results are as satisfying a mix of the traditional and the new as you're likely to find. He plays with keening tonal intensity and a musical sensibility that runs the gamut from traditional Louisiana blues sparseness to hard-edged big-city funk. It's all wrapped up in a musical package that's bound tight by Neal's attention to one element of musicianship that too many of his fellow fire-on-the-fretboard technical dazzlers forget: a solo is supposed to tell a story. For all his incendiary tendencies, Neal keeps things coherent from beginning to end, even as he pours on the passion like gobs of lighter fluid. Tonight, Shades, 21860 N. Milwaukee, Prairie View; 708-634-2583. Tuesday, B.L.U.E.S., 2519 N. Halsted; 528-1012.

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