Lonnie Shields gave us some tantalizing glimpses of his stylistic range on the rough but exuberant Portrait (Rooster Blues), his 1993 disc that was hailed by Living Blues magazine as the most impressive debut album of the last 20 years. On his recent Tired of Waiting (JSP), Shields narrows his focus, mostly eschewing three-chord aggression in favor of post-60s soul-blues stylings. His guitar work is lithe and sensual; his voice is limber enough to wrap around a ballad and then testify on an up-tempo shouter. Despite muted production, which tends to stifle the gospel-fueled abandon one usually associates with soul music, it's encouraging that a young musician has chosen subtlety and emotional honesty over the various trendy bandwagons--retro primitivism, frat-house barf boogie, tortured poetic solipsism--that have permeated the contemporary blues scene. Onstage, Shields, who spent years trudging the juke-joint circuit around Helena, Arkansas, has a sense of showmanship and professional dedication that puts many older performers to shame. Thursday, October 3, 9 PM, B.L.U.E.S., 2519 N. Halsted; 528-1012.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by James Fraher.