When these three self-proclaimed “middle-aged” women left their day gigs and hit the road in 1988, some predicted that their folksy, hummin’ and strummin’ approach toward blues would wear out its welcome and they’d eventually be relegated to some cubicle in Kingston Trio Hell. But so far the Uppity Blues Women show no signs of slowing down. Keyboardist Ann Rabson’s facility in classic blues piano styles has won the admiration of veterans across the country; bassist Earlene Lewis has increasingly adapted her countryish vocals and tub-thumping string-band bass playing to fit the bluesiness of the band’s repertoire. Vocalist Gaye Adegbalola remains the musical and visual focal point–her voice soars in a rich alto, her theatrical performance style is delightful and riveting in turn, and she’s come up with some powerful new material that should impress anyone who doubts the group’s emotional commitment. There are still enough contradictions in this band’s very existence to fill a musicological journal, but the powerful spirit of liberation and uplift that permeates the music makes most of them irrelevant. Saturday, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118. Wednesday, Easy Street, 2680 Golf, Glenview; 708-729-7702. Thursday, Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 427-0333 or 427-1190.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Pater Amft.