L.V. Johnson & Joanna Graham | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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L.V. Johnson & Joanna Graham

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The list of contemporary guitarists who consider themselves proteges of B.B. King seems endless, but Chicago's L.V. Johnson augments his stylistic debts with a welcome eclecticism and a considerable amount of grit. Johnson may be better known to local listeners as soul singer Tyrone Davis's longtime bandleader; he penned "Are You Serious," one of Davis's biggest hits. These days he's combining his two primary strengths--slick, string-bending blues guitar and smoldering passion on soul ballads--and he's finding considerable local success as a front man. Johnson's stage act sometimes gets a bit repetitive over the long haul, but it's redeemed by the tightness of his sidemen, the obvious commitment he brings to his material, and a voice that's capable of a huge spectrum of emotion, from fierce macho posturing to dusky sensuality. He's joined here by vocalist Joanna Graham, whose musical personality is akin to his; her blues are uptown and slickly delivered, and her soulful crooning is a fiery delight. Tonight and Saturday, Blue Chicago, 937 N. State; 642-6261.

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

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