Jamaica-born, Alabama-bred Eddie Kirkland is a Detroit legend, having accompanied John Lee Hooker in the late 40s and early 50s and then gone on to make a name for himself as a flamboyant soul-and-blues shouter with such R & B greats as King Curtis and, briefly, Otis Redding. But no mere biographical sketch can do Kirkland justice: dressed in a spangled turban like some down-home Sun Ra, firing out guitar riffs that fuse the rawness of Hooker with wall-of-sound screams borrowed from Hendrix into an ecstatically explosive personal style, Kirkland cuts one of the most outrageous figures in contemporary blues. The strident, occasionally discordant onslaught of his fretwork may overwhelm listeners looking for a continuation of the sparse, intensely emotional Detroit tradition he pioneered with Hooker, but Kirkland’s showmanship is unflagging and unforgettable: think of a slightly tamed version of Chicago’s legendary madman of Maxwell Street the Muck Muck Man crossed with the pyrotechnic outrageousness of Lefty Dizz and you’ve got the general idea. Tonight and Saturday, Rosa’s, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/J.D. Photography.