Harpist Snooky Pryor is a member of that fabled generation of Mississippians who descended upon Chicago in the 40s and helped define the burgeoning urban blues movement; his recordings on such labels as Planet, Old Swingmaster, and J.O.B. stand as some of the finest examples of the style ever waxed. He’s never felt the need to update his sound, and he shouldn’t: His harmonica tone is muscular and supple, and his improvisations, though somewhat elemental, are seasoned with strategically placed trills, warbles, and bends. He sings with a vibrato that harks back to the fine art of field hollering, ascending effortlessly from a full-throated roar into a gritty wail, and his lyrics (“Your daddy was a preacher / Your mammy was an alley cat”) are consistently witty. Pryor’s overfondness for medium-tempo shuffles can make his shows a little predictable, and his stage presence is more sincere than flamboyant. But his integrity and dedication are beyond reproach–he refuses to substitute flash for feeling, and when he really gets going he can rock the house far more convincingly than any half dozen of the phlegm-spewing testosterone cases currently being marketed as the future of the blues. Saturday, 10 PM, Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333. DAVID WHITEIS
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Snooky Pryor photo by Andrew Yates.