A meeting of B.B. King and Buddy Guy–King’s impeccable musicianship and elegant sophistication paired with Guy’s gut-tearing intensity and pyrotechnic flash–would be major news in any event. But the addition of genuine R & B legend Etta James makes this show even more tantalizing. Since her first recordings for Modern in the mid-50s, she’s shown an uncanny ability to manipulate the most unlikely material (“At Last,” for example, which was made popular by Glenn Miller of all people in the 40s) as well as extract every ounce of meaning from the blues and R & B classics (“Don’t Cry, Baby”) she’s made her own over the years. James’s personal tribulations for years made her sort of the Billie Holiday of R & B, but there’s one important difference: James has conquered her demons, and her live show achieves its feeling of transendence as much because of her personal victories as because of her talent. Saturday, 7 and 11 PM, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; 443-1130.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Fraher.