Ronnie Dawson | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Ronnie Dawson

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Everybody knows that country and blues gave birth to rock 'n' roll, but it's a whole other thing to have witnessed the birth firsthand. Ronnie Dawson's been playing rock 'n' roll since he was a teenager in Waxahachie, Texas, in the 50s. In 1957 he worked his way up to a regular slot on Dallas's legendary weekly music showcase, the Big D Jamboree. Seminal rockabilly artists are largely relegated to the fringe of the rock world these days, but that hasn't knocked the wind out of Dawson. Onstage or in a recording studio, Dawson makes the old songs sound new again. His latest release, Monkey Beat, on Britain's No Hit Records, combines stuff he recorded in 1993 with the magnificent tracks he laid down for 1988's Still a Lot of Rhythm. It's rockabilly and beyond, played by a natural rock 'n' roll animal who never lost the big beat. His music is hard, fast, careening, and lean, or as Dawson has put it himself, "chaos under control." From top to bottom this is an excellent lineup--Dawson will be backed by Nashville's the Planetrockers, and local outfit the Moondogs open. Friday, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.

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