Shorty Mack | Lee's Unleaded Blues | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader

Shorty Mack Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Oct. 24, 10 p.m. and Sun., Oct. 25, 9 p.m. 2009

George Bernard Shaw once said that his method was "to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity," and the soul singer's task is to do something very similar. Our greatest soul men and women have addressed the direst travails of the human condition with a musical language fueled by humor, danceable rhythms, and life-affirming irony. Chicago vocalist Shorty Mack (no relation to the rapper of the same name) exemplifies this approach. His set consists mostly of standards—he has a fondness for tunes that lay bare affairs of the (oft-broken) heart—but when he hits his stride his grainy, muscular voice and ebullient demeanor make those old chestnuts sound new again. Patrolling the room, all but demanding that people get up and get their party on, he can turn even a song that on paper looks depressingly blue into an unstoppable good time. And though he does indulge in the sometimes-puerile sexual double entendres of contemporary southern soul (say, Theodis Ealey's "Stand Up in It"), he delivers them with such leathery physicality and bottomless spirit that they sound like something out of the Kama Sutra. —David Whiteis

Price: $5

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