in performance: lil' ed and the blues imperials

lil' ed williams.

lil' ed williams. photo by andy lyons.

There were at least two times last night near the conclusion of the Red Mile Blues Festival when the wiry electric rampages of Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials sounded like the second coming of Elmore James.

You heard the spirit the of late blues giant in the scorched slide guitar runs of West Side Chicago native Lil’ Ed Williams. James was also heavily represented in the almost spiritual joy of Williams’ singing as well as in the sweaty, muscular grooves of the Blues Imperials. But the band also seemed to channel the houserocking gusto of such master blues movers as Hound Dog Taylor and Williams’ esteemed  uncle, J.B. Hutto.

This isn’t to say that during the course of their two hour set that Williams and his bandmates merely imitated those inspirations. Hardly. The latter of the two tunes in question, which very closely approximated the James-ian staple Dust My Broom during its intro, veered off to become a fearsome cover of Percy Mayfield’s You Don’t Exist No More that eventually summoned a playful defiance the Blues Imperials could proudly call their own.

The spot-checking of influences within Williams’music didn’t stop there. The syncopated groove to Housekeeping Job sounded as though it has been shipped overseas and given a coat of Peter Green-style Brit blues. Later, during Woman, Take a Bow, the guitar inflections suggested Carlos Santana while the tune circulated around a hook that sounded – improbable as this might seem – like a light funk interpretation of the 1973 Edgar Winter instrumental hit Frankenstein.

But it was the James, Hutto and Taylor inspirations that really fueled the Blues Imperials last night. Those were strong allies to have – and ones that Williams did proud by. When the performance leaned heavily into the fat electric cheer of those elders, as during the sly blues shuffles Pride and Joy (not the Stevie Ray Vaughan tune of the same name) and Take Out Some Insurance or the densely patterned grind of Hold That Train, the Blues Imperials summoned a roaring juke joint fire. The music sounded like the work of an honest-to-goodness blues band instead of the usual tired blues outfit siphoning rock ‘n roll for the cheap, accessible thrill.

What impressed most, though, was how keen, clean and mean the several slow tunes were that Williams peppered throughout the show. In these instances, the band hushed the volume and even the tone of the music, but not the intensity. Even the semi-novelty tune Check My Baby’s Oil, with all its cheesy lyrical innuendo, was anything but a joke. It was a serving of sleek, underplayed slow blues with a pretty high danger factor.

And in the great outdoors on a gorgeous Sunday night of a holiday weekend, having serious Chicago blues served with some playful menace sounded very sweet indeed.

Future of IT: Turbulent Times Ahead; A look at the trends IT executives expect in strategy, management, security and technology.

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That’s what will happen in 2008. Uncertain at best, stormy at worst, the economy will pressure large companies in particular to reduce IT and other costs. Organizations will exploit their recent investments in the Internet, services-based architectures and data analysis to improve services and processes, but how aggressively depends on how much the economy and the availability of IT talent in the U.S. and abroad shuts down the pipeline. in our site google iphone app

CIO Insight surveyed more than 250 IT executives on their expectations for 2008. What follows is a summary of 20 trends for the coming year and beyond. It combines new CIO Insight research with important findings from studies conducted in the past 12 months.

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