This session of raw west-side blues should serve as a reminder of some of the diamonds Chicago’s still got buried in its own backyard. Abe “Little Smokey” Smothers is a purveyor of straight-ahead 50s-style Chicago blues guitar. Imbued with enough Delta influences to keep it honest but revved up with improvisational imagination for a modern urban context, his fretwork retains the harsh exuberance of his stints with greats like Howlin’ Wolf buoyed by an underlying tenderness that seems to be a family trait: it runs through his work and that of his brother Otis “Big Smokey.” Harpist Little Arthur Duncan plays with a no-frills directness that might be monotonous except for his raucous intensity. Leather-lunged and passionate, he screams, cajoles, and otherwise gooses the audience, refusing to stop until both he and they are worked into a frenzy. This is one of several stops on a west-side pub crawl sponsored by Rosa’s Lounge–a laudable if audacious attempt to bring some of Chicago’s hidden treasures to the attention of a new audience. Saturday, Artesia Lounge, 3800 W. Lake; 638-9683.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Fraher.