For years Tyrone Davis has recorded little but standard soul-blues ballads and cloying, swaggering hoochie-man numbers (“Sugar Daddy,” “Tip Toe Through the Bedroom”). But last year’s Come to Daddy (Future) opens with a refreshing jolt of gut-thumping hard funk: on “Dogg” Davis promises that “Before the night is over / I’m gonna be your favorite Rover,” and even throws in a “bow-wow yippie yay” as a salute to George Clinton. From that point on the disc is relatively conventional, but it’s heartening to know Davis hasn’t lost his sense of play. Little Milton has likewise made an effort to remain contemporary, but with the exception of the guest-star-laden misfire Welcome to Little Milton (1999), which paired him with the likes of Gov’t Mule and G. Love & Special Sauce, his strategy has been to emphasize the timelessness of his elegant guitar style. His latest, Guitar Man (Malaco), also showcases his underappreciated vocals: his careworn, leathery tone, wide vibrato, and tender enunciation can elevate even corn pone like Vince Gill’s “Whenever You Come Around” to the level of a secular hymn. Like Milton, Artie “Blues Boy” White uses real horns in the studio instead of synths, and they provide a punchy backdrop for his grainy, aggressive voice; he developed his style singing gospel, but these days it evokes the street more than the pulpit. All three of these artists represent the best of contemporary soul-blues–their music is deeply rooted but not frozen in time. Davis, Milton, and White will each perform a separate set; also on the bill are Jesi’ Terrell, Nellie Travis, JoJo Murray, Ruby Andrews, and Howard Scott & the World Band. Friday, May 7, 9 PM, Sabre Room, 8900 W. 95th, Hickory Hills; 773-776-2800 or 708-598-1200.

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