Willie Kent is one of the premier blues bassists in Chicago, especially if you’re looking for a solid, nononsense bottom with plenty of energy and a minimum of histrionics. His voice is likewise meat-and-potatoes basic in the tradition of the neighborhood clubs: expressive and surprisingly supple, it’s capable of the usual declamatory aggressiveness as well as a welcome underlying hint of tender passion. He’s fronting the band he’s been using lately at Mr. Tee’s Lounge on Lake and Saint Louis, a sweaty little hole-in-the-wall where they play music that sounds the way life is lived: unpretentious, hard-edged, and honest. Guests Mary Lane and Barkin’ Bill will add a touch of sensual blues funk (Lane) and Big Joe Williams-style sophistication laced with a goodnatured lasciviousness (Bill) to round out the elemental west-side forcefulness of Kent’s music. This is the real thing, without embellishment, and becoming all too rare-on the north side. Tonight and Saturday, Blue Chicago, 937 N. State; 642-6261.

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