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Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials 

Friday, February 3, Wilbert's.

Yeah, the blues is "My baby's gone away." And the blues is "I got no money." And sometimes it's even "My baby left with all my money." But there's a whole 'nother way of dealing with hard luck and trouble, and Lil' Ed Williams & the Blues Imperials are masters of turning the blues into a good-time affair.

The Chicago foursome draws heavily upon the hard-edged character that typifies classic Windy City blues. If the best blues performers are personalities first, the extroverted Ed, a slide guitarist and vocalist, makes the cut. It's seldom far into a set before he makes his way off the stage and rousts the troops from the tables to the dance floor. Those nursing brews at the bar are not immune. Ed's been known to duckwalk his way around the glasses and tips. As a player, he showcases the tutelage of his late uncle, J.B. Hutto, a pioneer of the electrified Delta sound that anchored Chicago blues. Ed and band are long overdue for a new release. 2002's Heads Up! is a rockin' set that remains his most recent, but a CD is just the second-best way to catch this cat.

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