Guitarist Eddy Clearwater is widely known as a purveyor of Chuck Berry-style rock-blues, but his roots go much deeper than that stereotype suggests. Clearwater, born Eddie Harrington, is a member of the same Bell-Harrington clan that boasts Lovie Lee, Carey Bell, Vernon Harrington, and Lurrie Bell. He began his Chicago career in the early 50s, absorbing both Berry’s revolutionary innovations and the straight-ahead blues intensity of west-side legend Magic Sam. Virtually unknown outside of Chicago until the 1970s, Clearwater established a reputation as one of the city’s most flamboyant entertainers, capable of an unexpectedly deep blend of bluesy melancholy and modern pop flash. He’s maintained that balance throughout his career, and these days he’s a Chicago institution, the kind of artist European blues pilgrims seek out when they come here. The Sunday show is a benefit for ailing former Magic Sam bassist Mac Johnson. Billy Boy Arnold, the 50s-era harmonica prodigy, will make a rare appearance, and the cream of the west-side blues community will also join Clearwater to pay tribute to a beloved friend and musician. Saturday, River West, 1860 N. Elston; 276-4846. Sunday, 3 PM, Rosa’s, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452. Thursday, Blue Chicago, 937 N. State; 642-6261.

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