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The Skinny on Fats 

Local bluesman owes his livelihood to legend.

If you close your eyes tonight at Fat Fish Blue, you just might hear the ghost of Robert Lockwood Jr. in the rootsy blues of Cleveland Fats. In the early '70s, Fats was a young and eager musician, who hung around local blues clubs just to hear Lockwood play. He struck 12-string gold when the venerable bluesman invited him to his house for private lessons. Lockwood eventually hired him for his band in 1974. After nearly two decades of learning from his mentor, Fats struck out on his own. His fourth album, The Way Things Go, gives fans ample reason to be thankful for Lockwood's influence on the tracks' deep-roots and bluesy riffs. But Fats has tweaked the Chicago-style sound like the tuner on his guitar to add a '50s-era twist. Showtime is at 8 tonight at Fat Fish Blue, 21 Prospect Avenue. Admission is free. Call 216-875-6000 or visit
Thu., Dec. 27, 8 p.m., 2007

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