Michael Hill’s Blues Mob

Michael Hill exploded onto the blues scene about two years ago with a sound as furious and tormented as his politicized lyrics. On his new CD, Have Mercy!, Hill evokes some standard blues themes–recalcitrant lovers, fleshy pleasures–and his sound is closer to contemporary beer-and-boogie than the searing metallic onslaught of his debut disc, Bloodlines. But he’s hardly been tamed: “Bluestime in America,” which musically echos Gil Scott-Heron’s “New York City” and “Must Be Something,” grieves for a nation where dreams are dashed and futures are bleak; “Grandmother’s Blues” is a realist, almost Stalinist tale of police brutality set to a modified dub beat; “Stagolee/Perspective” warns young African-American men to forsake the outlaw hero’s self-destructive violence. Hill can occasionally sound preachy and he has yet to summon the vocal grit to do his sentiments justice, but his commitment to truth is unwavering and his knack for tempering his apocalyptic social vision with celebrations of life is welcome. As if to drive the point home the new disc closes with a jubilant roots tribute–a bone-crunching take on Hound Dog Taylor’s “She’s Gone,” complete with Taylor-esque distortion. Bring your dancing shoes and your thinking cap to this show. Sunday, 10 PM, Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333 or 312-427-1190.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/ Joseph A. Rosen.