Tuesday, August 29, 2006

World-Class Blues Played Near Here


(Originally posted: August 17, 2004)

A couple of great blues musicians showed up at Sticky Fingerz in Little Rock on Thursday night.

Michael Burks, probably Ark-ansas' most talented young bluesman, dropped in to catch Deborah Coleman and her band and he was impressed.

Burks has a new CD from Alligator called "I Smell Smoke," which we reviewed here recently. He'd dropped in just to listen, and he obviously liked Coleman and her band as they put on a great show.

Burks, a Camden native who lives in North Little Rock, was resting his pipes for an appearance Friday night at the Eureka Springs Blues Festival, with Buddy Guy as headliner at the auditorium. Clarence (Gatemouth) Brown plays at 9 tonight, so it's not too late to catch some music up in the hills.

Those who made the short drive to Little Rock's Rivermarket district for Coleman's show got a bargain: For $10, they heard a first-class blues guitarist who keeps improving with age: Her singing is bluesier and her guitar playing is as solid as ever.

She's as incendiary as Buddy Guy, Michael Burks or Gatemouth Brown, for that matter, and much better-looking.

Coleman played some numbers from "How About Love," her new CD from Telarc, as well as songs from her older CDs – she's been recording for almost a decade – and even threw in some Albert Collins and Louis Jordan. (Does she know Jordan was born in nearby Brinkley?)

She's an energetic performer, and the only thing disappointing about her show was the lackluster attendance.

There wasn't a lot of publicity for her appearance – a small ad for Sticky Fingerz in Little Rock's alternative weekly listed her show, but the paper ran no picture or even hinted that a first-rate blues artist was coming to Little Rock.

Coleman is appreciated all over the world, probably more than she's here. After her Little Rock stop, she headed for Oklahoma City and then she's going to Bilbao, Spain, where the local media will surely give her the respect and the publicity she deserves.


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