It’s hardly the Wolf Gang anymore–bassist Lafayette “Shorty” Gilbert is the only member of Howlin’ Wolf’s last working band in the group, aside from saxophonist-bandleader Eddie Shaw–but this joyous aggregation of bluesmen continues on in Wolf’s grand rowdy tradition. Shaw’s sax playing combines the fiery intensity of Wolf’s classic Delta shout with the honking funk of a Texas roadhouse screamer; it’s elemental and somewhat predictable, but there’s no denying its passionate emotional charge. The band, although they’ve been criticized for polluting vintage Chicago riffs with rock pyrotechnics and in general watering down the deep passion of the Chicago tradition, manage to combine the best of the old and the new in a way that’s usually savory and always holds the interest. Shaw’s original songs are lyrically inventive and imbued with propulsive blues fire; the band is a modern Chicago institution and it retains enough of Wolf’s classic legacy to be a heartfelt tribute to tradition as well as a rollicking contemporary musical experience. Saturday, B.L.U.E.S., 2519 N. Halsted; 528-1012. Wednesday, Blue Chicago, 937 N. State; 642-6261. Thursday, Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 427-0333.

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