Chicago is known worldwide as the home of modern gospel, but more traditional forms of African-American Christian music are seldom heard here anymore. This performance will be a rare exception. Guitarist Reverend Leon Pinson and harpist Reverend Elder Wildson were both born in Mississippi; their songs are solidly in the old-time sacred vein, given extra poignancy by the subtle eloquence of Pinson’s slide work overlaid by Wilson’s voicelike harmonica lines. Pinson’s resume includes work at various folk and heritage festivals, including an appearance in Africa, and his playing is famous among aficionados for its adherence to the original intent of slide guitar–to the sounds, cadences, and timbre of the human voice. Wilson, who alternates his harp blowing with “brush arbor” preaching in the traditional southern rural style, provides both eloquent accompaniment and a gentle impetus for Pinson’s fretwork. Together they provide a rare testimony to the power of music as a vehicle of faith. This show is an invaluable opportunity to partake of a rich and often-overlooked facet of African American musical heritage. Today, noon, front entrance, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. 443-1130.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Rex Miller.