Guitarist Jack Johnson teamed up with Frank Frost (harp, piano, guitar) and drummer Sam Carr back in 1963, and as the Jelly Roll Kings they established themselves as one of the Clarksdale, Mississippi, area’s most popular blues bands. Rowdy and exuberant, playing everything from Delta blues standards to country-western novelty numbers and pop tunes, they carry on in the great juke-joint tradition: they’re technically proficient but raw around the edges, dedicated to filling the house with joy, and they play with a refreshing informality and willingness take chances. This is a rare opportunity to see the original Kings as a unit; Johnson has been out on his own lately and Frost’s health has been shaky. They’ll be augmented by some top Chicago talent–bassist Robert “Pete” Peterson and, on Sunday, the Chicago horn section that graces Johnson’s new Earwig LP. The gig should provide us with some of the rawest, happiest, and most unpretentious blues we’ve heard in a long time. Saturday and Sunday, Rosa’s, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.

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