For a while it looked as if Carey Bell would be Chicago’s next harmonica king, following in the footsteps of his famous mentors Little Walter Jacobs and Big Walter Horton. That never happened, but his playing still shows flashes of the old brilliance: when he’s on, few can match his combination of speed-demon flights of fancy and full-toned musicality. His guitarist son Lurrie Bell is back on the scene after a hiatus of nearly two years. Lurrie seemed headed toward becoming the Bud Powell of modern Chicago blues–a brilliant young stylist, with the tools to take his instrument to revolutionary new heights, brought low by personal demons. He’s apparently found peace, however; his playing these days lacks the spurts of near-manic intensity that used to send audiences into ecstasy, but his musicianship remains steadfast–technically sure, with an intuitive feel for blues expression that few young guitarists can match–and his newfound equilibrium allows him to explore subtleties that might have eluded him before. Saturday and Sunday, Rosa’s, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.

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