Guitarist Bobby Parker is best known among R & B aficionados for his 1961 hit “Watch Your Step,” which influenced, among others, the Beatles (Lennon credited the song for inspiring the “Day Tripper” guitar riff) and Led Zeppelin (Robert Plant has cited Parker as a major musical role model). Now that Parker’s back in full force on the blues scene, one can understand why he’s been revered by people like these: his lead work tends to start where others leave off–high-treble note bends, screaming tone, and relentlessly ascending melody lines. He’s as technically dazzling as ever, and although certain Chicago-minded purists will probably wish he’d tone things down a bit and let the music breathe, his supercharged approach to blues and funk is right up contemporary alleys. Especially notable is his voice: despite his years and the dues he’s paid, Parker sings in a clear, high tenor that melds a youthful clarity reminiscent of teen idols like Jackie Wilson with the kind of controlled aggression we associate with tough, veteran bluesmen. Friday, 9:30 PM, Rosa’s, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.

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