Guitarist Walter “Wolfman” Washington earned his nickname from his amorous exploits rather than through any innate animalistic tendencies, but a touch of lycanthropic madness permeates his musical personality as well. Washington worked for years with New Orleans R & B legends like Johnny Adams and Lee Dorsey, gaining a reputation as a fiery session man of brilliant and eclectic virtuosity–a necessity in the churning sonic gumbo that is the Crescent City music scene. Now on his own, Washington is free to follow whatever musical visions come to him: he’ll segue from a plaintive blues moan into a roaring R & B anthem, then smooth everything out with a sophisticated, jazz-tinged soul ballad. Through it all he maintains his craftsmanly feel for a well-turned phrase, as well as the steamy emotionality he learned during years of roadhouse scuffling. But try to listen beyond Washington’s gifted improvisational flair: like most New Orleans musicians, he lays his melodies over a powerful and multilayered rhythmic base–even at its low-down-and-dirty bluesiest, Washington’s music can strut like a reveler on Fat Tuesday. Friday and Saturday, B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera, 1124 W. Belmont; 525-8989.

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