Blues Christmas

When you hear, "I'm crossover, man, Southern rock and . . . ," or, "My thang is kinda that hiphopnewgrungefunky-type jazz thang, y'know? . . ." or, "Uh, I do strictly blues," it's a fair bet you're being snowed. A good musician won't lay style on you. He'll just say, "It's the music." That's why I like to go hear George Bowman sing. Wherever he gigs, Bowman dons a dapper suit and brings a gentleman's touch to a wide array of musical styles. He can pull you into his smooth brand of rhythm 'n' soul, out to in-yer-face Chicago blues, then right back into '60s or '70s pop so gracefully you'll wanna remember every dance step you ever were exposed to.

He's maintained that well-kept secret here in the Valley for 30 years, opening for acts like Sweetwater, Buddy Miles, Jethro Tull, and Dr. Hook in the '70s. He did mostly R&B then. In '88, he hit the blues circuit, backed by local faves like Nitekap, Spectrum, and Lucius Parr's ever-vibrant Streetlife Band. This past year he fronted Two Flavor Blues.

But good things don't stay in the shadows forever. Now he platforms his vocal talent and enjoys playing with a wide number of musician friends. And with each different set of friends, he always maintains a blow-away control over the different styles he commands.

Recently, Bowman was winner at the 1999 AZ Blues Showdown, where he and his "Friends," such as Sistah Blue and other bands, were elated to find their well-deserved accolade will thrust them into the spotlight at the Memphis Blues Festival in January.

You can catch Bowman often between now and his emissary Memphis gig, at Char's Has the Blues, Warsaw Wally's, the Rhythm Room, Beeloe's, or Orbit Restaurant. In the holiday spirit, he's also performing at a number of benefits for other musicians and causes this month. He's one of the really good guys on the scene -- his almost nervous humility offstage is refreshing. "I just pray and play," he likes to say. I pray you can catch him at one of his many shows before he leaves in mid-January.

George Bowman and Friends are scheduled to perform on Sunday, December 19; and again on Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. There's no cover for the former show; it's $5 for the latter. Showtime is 8 p.m. for both. For details call 480-265-4842.