There was a time when blues and R&B/black popular music were not so very far apart. Performers such as Etta James, Bobby "Blue" Bland, and Little Johnny Taylor merged the gritty, down-home aspects of the former with the polished, up-market style of the latter for a combination that could wow a Saturday-night club crowd and get played on the radio. Alas, radio's a lot different now, but gents like Johnny Rawls carry on that tradition into this century. But don't get the idea he's some dinosaur stuck in the past while he's been 'round the block a few times, Rawls' singing and lyrics testify that he's living in the same time and the same world as you and me, and all without wearing a fur-covered top hat or platinum-bling brass knucks. Plays a mean guitar, too.
Mon., Feb. 9, 2009