Many folks know drummer Sam Lay best for his 60s-era association with pop superstars like Paul Butterfield; locally, he was an institution with the Siegel-Schwall Band. Make no mistake, though: Lay is first and foremost a masterful Chicago-style blues percussionist, as capable of tasteful shuffle accompaniment as he is of driving rock-pop blues. His experience in a wide variety of contexts has made him among this city’s most requested session men. He has a versatility that never descends into self-indulgent display, and his technique is a marvel to behold. He’s one of the relatively few blues drummers capable of keeping several rhythms going simultaneously and still maintaining a solid groove mercifully devoid of sonic overkill; he never sounds as if he’s trying to kill or maim anything with his rim shots. Lay’s continued presence on the scene has made him a lot more meaningful than some of the other 60s blues-rock relics who’ve been hanging around town lately, and he radiates a personal warmth that makes his shows especially enjoyable. Saturday, 9:30 PM, Harlem Avenue Lounge, 3701 S. Harlem, Berwyn; 708-484-3610.

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