Since his early days with Roomful of Blues, guitarist Ronnie Earl has been known as a fleet-fingered and tasteful player, capable of the rawest Chicago minimalism as well as the jazzy swing that characterized Roomful's sound. The music he's made since breaking away from that band has exceeded even the most exalted expectations. Beneath Earl's often gentle improvisational style there's a smoldering commitment to emotional truth. It sometimes finds outlet in his searingly honest lyrics ("That's When My Soul Comes Down")' other times, his solos will build slowly from an understated whisper to a full-bodied scream, taking the listener through a spellbinding emotional tour de force. Through it all, his musicianship remains eloquent. This weekend he'll be featured with some of Chicago's finest--Junior Wells on Friday, guitarist Hubert Sumlin on Saturday--and the shows should resonate with Earl's trademark combination of passion, dedication, and musical excellence. Tonight and Saturday, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 427-0333 or 427-1190.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Rick Olivier.