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Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials 

When: Sun., Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m. 2012
Contemporary blues can seem like a sea of 12-bar sameness, if only because the form is such low-hanging fruit for any weekend hobbyist with an electric guitar and the ability to play a I-IV-V progression in at least one or two keys. But Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials haven’t hung onto favored status in the scene for a quarter-century by going through the motions. To begin with, on stage and in photos, Lil’ Ed Williams is a memorable front man. He’s aggressive on his ax, clad in brightly colored, often sequined attire, red Chuck Taylors and a fez — the latter in honor of his legendary slide guitar-playing uncle J.B. Hutto — and, yes, diminutive. Also, Williams’ definition of blues places an emphasis on its feel-good, party-starting qualities instead of its reputation as an outlet for down-in-the-mouth emotional catharsis. It ought to say something that Jump Start — his recently released eighth album on Alligator Records — closes with an original Chicago-style boogie declaring, “It’ll be against the law, boy, to wear a frown.”
— Jewly Hight


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