Lucky Peterson | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Lucky Peterson


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Lucky Peterson, the multi-instrumentalist prodigy who appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show before he was six, has stirred up quite a storm in recent years. He combines a fiery enfant terrible urgency with audacious technical flash, sometimes overwhelming the material with the force of his personality. But Peterson's crowd-pleasing antics, as much as they grate on the nerves of curmudgeons like myself, have roots as old as the music: even Charlie Patton, one of the progenitors of the Delta style, was criticized for clowning by contemporaries who claimed it was at the expense of his art. History has proven Patton's critics wrong, and it's liable to do the same to Peterson's detractors: his keyboard playing ranges from eye-popping variations on Delta themes through outrageous tomfoolery, and his guitar work spits fire and smoke through the traditional phrases he uses as the base of his improvisations. With Peterson you get the compulsive showmanship of the lifelong trouper, a young man's roaring readiness to take on the world, and the emotional commitment of the deep bluesman all rolled into one wiry, electrifying package. Tonight and Saturday, Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage; 432-0452.

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