Walter "Wolfman" Washington | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Walter "Wolfman" Washington


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Guitarist Walter "Wolfman" Washington earned his nickname from his amorous exploits rather than through any innate animalistic tendencies, but a touch of lycanthropic madness permeates his musical personality as well. Washington worked for years with New Orleans R & B legends like Johnny Adams and Lee Dorsey, gaining a reputation as a fiery session man of brilliant and eclectic virtuosity--a necessity in the churning sonic gumbo that is the Crescent City music scene. Now on his own, Washington is free to follow whatever musical visions come to him: he'll segue from a plaintive blues moan into a roaring R & B anthem, then smooth everything out with a sophisticated, jazz-tinged soul ballad. Through it all he maintains his craftsmanly feel for a well-turned phrase, as well as the steamy emotionality he learned during years of roadhouse scuffling. But try to listen beyond Washington's gifted improvisational flair: like most New Orleans musicians, he lays his melodies over a powerful and multilayered rhythmic base--even at its low-down-and-dirty bluesiest, Washington's music can strut like a reveler on Fat Tuesday. Friday and Saturday, B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera, 1124 W. Belmont; 525-8989.

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

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