Nora Jean Wallace | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Nora Jean Wallace

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There's a new breed of blueswoman on the scene: assertive and sassy, more likely to send a musical warning to a recalcitrant lover than to bemoan his mistreatment of her and unafraid to fuse sexy flirtatiousness with a take-no-mess strut. Nora Jean Wallace typifies this persona. She's also capable of moving effortlessly from a torchy rendition of a soul ballad to an exuberant blues shout, then launching into a contemporary standard ("Down Home Blues") with little worry about whether she's straining the boundaries of genre or style. Through it all she maintains a dignified sense of hard-won strength, at times approaching the tough-as-nails sexiness of a Denise LaSalle. Her assertiveness is tempered, though, by a gentleness of spirit that keeps it from becoming abrasive. She depends on a solid backup band to be effective; these days she's being managed by the famous west-side guitarist and promoter Jimmy Dawkins, who has the good sense to provide her with sidemen well-suited to her versatile musicality. Tonight, Saturday, and next Friday and Saturday, October 13 and 14, New 1815 Club, 1815 W. Roosevelt; 666-1500.

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

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