Willie Cobbs | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Here's a rare opportunity to see a true blues original. Willie Cobbs's "You Don't Love Me," first recorded in 1961 on the Mojo label out of Memphis, has been a blues-rock standard ever since the Allman Brothers' cover version, but Cobbs's talents go much deeper. Cobbs was born in Arkansas, and he lived in Chicago for a while during the early 50s, absorbing the driving urban sounds being pioneered by Muddy Waters et al and even, by some accounts, working locally with Waters's band. "You Don't Love Me" was probably a result of this tenure in Chicago (Bo, Diddley, who was scuffling around the city during those years, has also claimed authorship), but Cobbs never completely turned his back on his country roots. His ecstatically energetic set at the 1990 Chicago Blues Festival showed an artist still at the top of his powers, still strong-voiced and flamboyant. Cobbs is more than a one-hit wonder; he's a major bluesman, deserving of wider recognition, whose music is as entertaining and relevant as ever. Tonight and Saturday, Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.

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