Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials

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These days, Alligator Records is billing Lil' Ed as "refreshingly unsophisticated," and for once the hype is pretty close to the truth. Slide guitarist Ed is the nephew of the late J.B. Hutto, and he carries on in his uncle's grand tradition: short on subtlety and heavy on the kind of kick-ass, rough-hewn exuberance the blues and boogie crowd never seems to tire of, with a sufficiently healthy dose of authentic Chicago tradition to please aficionados as well. After tinkering with various combinations, Ed has hit on a backup band with the acumen to give him the musical support he occasionally needs but who are wise enough to stand back and let him have his head when he pulls out his slide and gets into his own searing, intensely emotional thing. Ed has regained his musical and emotional footing after a brief period of uncertainty, and he's apparently back on the one-way track to stardom that's been predicted for him for years. Tonight and Saturday, B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera, 1124 W. Belmont; 525-8989. Sunday, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 788-2118.

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