Nellie “Tiger” Travis and Pokey Bear head to Chi-Town Blues Festival | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Nellie “Tiger” Travis and Pokey Bear head to Chi-Town Blues Festival


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Chicagoan Nellie “Tiger” Travis’s 2013 song “Mr. Sexy Man” has become a modern-day soul-blues classic with its earworm guitar pattern, propulsive beat, and vernacular chorus (“What yo’ name is? What yo’ name is?”), but despite its good-timey vibe, Travis shouldn’t be typecast as merely a party girl. As evidenced by outings like the searing “Don’t Talk to Me” from 2008’s I’m a Woman (CDS) and the soul-baring “Walking in the Rain in Memphis” on last year’s independently released Mr. Sexy Man: The Album, she’s also a spellbinding storyteller—the same voice that can kick your ass on a dance floor can break your heart with a ballad. Baton Rouge vocalist Pokey Bear created his own firestorm in 2016 with “My Side Piece,” the gristly, testosterone-filled ode to infidelity he rode to notoriety as the lead singer of the Louisiana Blues Brothas—a group of three relatively young African-American artists, performing on a primarily African-American circuit and proudly billing their music as “blues” and themselves as bluesmen. Though they should have been welcomed by blues lovers of all stripes as the long-awaited Second Coming of their beloved genre, they’ve made virtually no impact outside of southern soul audiences. It’s evidence (as if more was needed) that most pure-minded white blues aficionados remain oblivious to what the folks who invented the blues celebrate as its living legacy.   v

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