For years Johnny Littlejohn has been hailed as one of the few contemporary slide guitarists worthy of carrying the traditionalist mantle of Muddy Waters and the other Chicago bluesmen who virtually reinvented the venerable form in the 50s. Despite that, he remains something of a well-kept secret. He doesn’t maintain the stinging ferocity usually associated with Chicago slide, but his melodicism and plaintive wail pack a deep emotional wallop. Unlike many slide masters (Waters among them), Littlejohn can also hold his own as a single-string lead player, and although his repertoire is limited to an armful of well-tested standards, he brings a refreshing sense of immediacy to his music. With the right rhythm section behind him, Littlejohn can call forth Chicago’s fabled golden age of blues as few others can. He’s been visited by ill health in recent years; his recent Sunday-night shows at Rosa’s have been his first regular club appearances in quite a while. Sunday, Rosa’s, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.

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