Reverend John Wilkins | Reggie's Music Joint | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader

Reverend John Wilkins Soundboard

When: Tue., July 12, 8 p.m. 2011

Preacher and singer John Wilkins probably couldn't downplay his roots even if he wanted to. His father was the great bluesman Robert Wilkins, an ordained minister who famously wrote "That's No Way to Get Along" (aka "Prodigal Son"), which the Rolling Stones covered on Beggars Banquet. The younger Wilkins, born in 1943, grew up in Memphis and got started in music in the 60s, playing guitar behind soul great O.V. Wright and working in the M&N Gospel Singers. But since the 80s he's been a full-time man of the cloth, serving as pastor of Hunter's Chapel Church in Como, Mississippi, onetime house of worship for the likes of Mississippi Fred McDowell and Otha Turner. Earlier this year he released You Can't Hurry God (Big Legal Mess), a knockout blend of Mississippi blues and guitar gospel. He gives a powerful reading of "Prodigal Son," replete with deft fingerpicked filigree, and tackles McDowell's classic "You Got to Move" (another tune covered by the Stones). But to my ears his best performances are on soul-streaked gospel material like "Jesus Will Fix It," the title cut, and "I Want You to Help Me," where an organ-stoked band shimmies at the border of sacred and profane. On these tracks Wilkins's voice, propelled by a great call-and-response chorus composed of his two daughters, sounds a bit smoother. For this gig he leads a quartet with guitarist Jake Fussell and bassist Eric Deaton (who both play on the album) plus J.D. Mark of Wiley & the Checkmates on drums. —Peter Margasak

Price: $10

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