It’s been too long since the propulsive, witty music of blues guitarist Eddie C. Campbell has been heard in Chicago. (He’s been living in Europe, gigging regularly and touring in a stage adaptation of William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun.) Campbell specializes in jaunty, irresistibly danceable rhythms overlaid with lithe guitar lines, often placed so tightly in the pocket of the beat that his lead guitar almost doubles as a rhythm instrument. He’ll segue from straight-ahead west-side blues to James Brown-style funk explosions in th course of a single set, and his subject matter ranges from quirky (“Santa’s Messing With the Kid”) to outrageous (“King of the Jungle”). He treats classics with respect (predictably preferring novelty items like Willie Mabon’s “Poison Ivy”) and takes on contemporary pop styles with fearless abandon. Beneath the flash he’s unusually proficient in both the technical and emotional subtleties of postwar blues. These gigs were organized somewhat hastily (Campbell’s only in town for a visit), so the music might be a bit ragged around the edges, but it’ll be worth it: this delightful free spirit may not show his face in town again for years.

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