To many, guitarist Chris Thomas represents everything new and frightening about the younger generation of bluesmen: as influenced by rock as he is by blues or R & B, Thomas cares little for the restrictions of genre or generation. He’ll segue from a mournful-sounding Delta intro into a thunderous metallic bombardment; sometimes it’s as if he’s intentionally trying to force us out of our predetermined notions and drag us, kicking and screaming, in new directions. Thomas is the son of Baton Rouge blues legend Tabby Thomas, and he spent his childhood immersed in the stylistic gumbo that was Louisiana blues in the 60s and 70s–the legacy of Guitar Slim’s flamboyant explosiveness, the laid-back, swampy cadences of Louisiana traditionalists like Slim Harpo, and the infusion of big-city elegance and urgency by way of Memphis and Chicago. Thomas took these diverse influences, grafted on his own post-Hendrix infatuation with technical virtuosity, and came up with a music that’s relentlessly forward-looking but also slyly traditional in its approach: no matter how far out he gets he stays rooted in the emotional honesty and immediacy of expression that’s at the heart of the blues. Saturday, 10 PM, Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 427-0333 or 427-1190.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/John De Leon.