Live at B.L.U.E.S.
by Tim Holek
I love this tiny north side Chicago club, but it’s not the best place to film a performance. Patrons innocently get in the way of some of the views, yet this may make you feel as if you are among the crowd. Band members have to squish on to the miniature band stand. Greg McDaniel (bass) wedges in between the late Sunnyland Slim’s old piano and the drum riser. Four cameramen get so close to the performers, you can see their finger placements on the frets. An overhead camera captures James Carter on drums. Recorded August 13, 2006, the live on stage footage is interspersed with bartenders making drinks, the club’s walls and the photos that adorn them, exterior shots of the club, and the B.L.U.E.S. backyard BBQ party.
With a gentle approach, Jimmy Burns, who was born in Dublin,
Mississippi and sings about the town in
Leaving Here Walking, is the
least Chicago blues-sounding artist of the last remaining Chicago blues
greats. Perhaps that’s because Burns feels he never left the Delta
although he’s now been living in
There is nothing flashy here; it’s just great down home music. The 12 songs, including four which do not appear on his three previous Delmark releases, are consistently sharp. Some are more memorable than others. Second guitarist Tony Palmer rocks out during Can’t Hold Out Much Longer. In general, Palmer tends to crank a bit too much. Better Know What You’re Doing, a tribute to John Lee Hooker, is full of Johnny B. Moore style pushes and pulls. The blues’ influence on blues/rock and hard rock can be heard on this rapidly repetitive rumble. Guest singer Jesse Fortune’s extremely frail vocals do not restrict him from belting out the lyrics of Three O’Clock Blues. Burns’ smooth and soulful vocals match his majestic guitar style throughout the 75-minute DVD.
The video and audio are both crystal clear. As an added bonus there is an audio commentary which reveals a lot about Burns and his music, e.g., he has two children and creates his own bottlenecks, which he uses to play slide guitar. Disturbingly, some of the songs on the commentary have un-synchronized audio and video. Also available is a 68-minute CD (with two less songs).