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.