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At 56 John Mayall is an unheralded elder statesman of modern blues and rock. His Bluesbreakers, originally formed in 1962, were the prototypical British blues band: they fused raw energy with youthful rock-and-roll passion in a way that perfectly captured the heady exuberance of the times. Theirs was the sound that ignited the furious interest in the blues among young white musicians that spread through Great Britain and the United States in the mid-60s. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Mayall has remained true to his blues muse: his harp blowing retains the harmonic and tonal subtleties he absorbed from Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson, and he can still send chills, down your spine with his throat-ripping, Otis Rush-style scream. A special treat is his keyboard work: he pumps out eight-to-the-bar boogie bass patterns and overlays them with eccentric, chiming treble complements in the style of Cripple Clarence Lofton. This, Mayall’s first visit to Chicago in quite some time, is something of a spiritual homecoming for an artist who took an indigenous American music to his heart and helped spread it around the world. Tonight, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; 327-1662 or 477-7469.

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