Sat Jan 06 2018 8:00 pm
Eddy Clearwater

During the 1950s, Chicago's West Side was a breeding ground for some of the world's greatest bluesmen. Magic Sam, Otis Rush, Freddie King and others ruled the clubs. With his fierce guitar playing, soulful and emotive vocals and wild stage shows, Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater easily belongs on this list. A Chicago legend, Clearwater is an intense, flamboyant blues-rocking showman. He's equally comfortable playing the deepest, most heartfelt blues or rocking, good-time party music. DownBeat said, "Left-hander Eddy Clearwater is a forceful six-stringer...He lays down some gritty West Side shuffles and belly-grinding slow blues that highlight his raw chops, soulful vocals, and earthy, humorous lyrics."

Between his slashing left-handed guitar work, his room-filling vocals, his self-defined "rock-a-blues" style (a forceful mix of blues, rock, rockabilly, country and gospel), his boundless energy and even his signature Indian headdress, Clearwater is among the very finest practitioners of the West Side blues working today. The blues world recognized his talent by giving him the Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues – Male Artist of the Year in 2001. His last release, 2003's Rock 'N' Roll City, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Now he's back with his very first Alligator CD, the aptly titled WEST SIDE STRUT.

WEST SIDE STRUT, produced by young hotshot guitarist Ronnie Baker Brooks (son of the legendary bluesman Lonnie Brooks), is an energized mix of West Side blues and old school rock injected with a tough, up-to-the-minute contemporary edge. Featuring some of Eddy's hottest playing ever recorded, the CD burns with his stinging guitar and rough-and-ready vocals. Guests include Eddy's old friends Lonnie Brooks, Jimmy Johnson, Billy Branch and Otis Clay as well as Ronnie Baker Brooks himself, playing some scintillating guitar parts. The 12 songs (including seven songs either written or co-written by Eddy) lean from straight-ahead blues and humorous rockers to plaintive, emotion-packed ballads. All are brought to vivid life by Eddy's ferocious and unflinching guitar playing, his power-packed vocals and unlimited energy, hard-earned by his years of experience. GuitarOne said Clearwater takes his listeners on "an inspired trip to that rollicking crossroads where the blues and rock collide."