They used to call Eddie Burks “Jewtown”–his intense vocals and raw-edged harmonica style sound as if they were nurtured in the hardscrabble blues atmosphere of the Maxwell Street Market. Burks has been a blues mainstay in Chicago for years, gigging on his own and occasionally with Jimmy Dawkins and other bandleaders, but until recently he’s never had the opportunity to front a regular band that did him justice. Fresh off a successful CD that put him on blues playlists all over the country, he’s finally gotten that luxury, and his music reflects the change. His voice cuts fiercely to the sinew of slow blues and roars with exalting abandon on roadhouse-rockers; his harp, as elemental and ragged as ever, is supported by sidemen who find the feeling in Burks’s groove and milk it for all it’s worth. The way he’s going, Burks may be the latest in a long line of veterans to take on the label “most promising newcomer” after years of scuffling. Tonight and Saturday, B.L.U.E.S., 2519 N. Halsted; 528-1012.

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