Michael Burks | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Michael Burks

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Early in his career this guitarist was pigeonholed as a bluesman in the mold of Albert King, but these days he's definitely his own man: his sound is more bombastic and rock influenced, with explosively virtuosic speed-demon solos. Burks never sacrifices taste for pyrotechnics, though; even his most fiery and flamboyant leads follow an impeccable logic. On the ballad "Time I Came in Out of the Rain," a highlight of his 2003 disc I Smell Smoke (Alligator), he communicates both desolation and hope, his sandpaper--and-smoke vocals expressive and unforced; on up-tempo tracks like "All Your Affection Is Gone" and "Hard Love," which are no less uncompromising lyrically, he opens the throttle and takes to the bluesosphere with the kind of abandon only a master craftsman can pull off without losing control. a 9:30 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $12. --David Whiteis

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