Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Nora Jean Bruso 

Saturday, April 23, at Wilbert's.

Give a quick listen to Nora Jean Bruso, and comparisons to Koko Taylor and Etta James make instant sense. Taylor's tectonic force and the sass and bite of James are both evident in Bruso's delivery, along with the built-in advantage of relative youth. The fortysomething Bruso's brash and brawny belting evokes a Koko from the early '60s, brandishing the sort of power that could hold its own next to the numerous big-name bluesmen regularly working Chicago's West and South Side bars in those days.

Bruso's own Chicago-blues pedigree also well matches the backgrounds of the masters. Mississippi-born and -bred, and steeped in both church and juke-joint music, Bruso hit Big Windy in 1976 and scored her first marquee gig in 1984, fronting the band of guitar-legend Jimmy Dawkins. She appeared on two of Dawkins' discs before family issues took center stage. Bruso's relaunch came with a lights-out set at the 2002 Chicago Blues Festival. Since then, there have been numerous club and festival slots and a W.C. Handy nomination. Her third solo disc, Going Back to Mississippi, displays Bruso's ability to encase her high-octane vocals in varied, sometimes unexpected surroundings in an all-original set. And fear not: The lady's main stock in trade is balls-out blues.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of Previews

Latest in Livewire

More by Duane Verh

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays
  • Louis C.K. @ Agora Theatre

    • Thu., Dec. 2
  • Andrea Bocelli @ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

    • Thu., Dec. 2

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation