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Live In Chicago

Dave Specter

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Album Review

There are still some die-hard purists in the blues world who want nothing to do with rock, soul, or jazz and refuse to perform anything that doesn't adhere to a traditional 12-bar structure, but people who fit that description have become harder and harder to find. Go to a major event like the annual Chicago Blues Festival in downtown Chicago's Grant Park, and you will not only encounter disciples of Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, or John Lee Hooker — you will also find blues-oriented performers who have been influenced by Tower of Power, Jimi Hendrix, Richard "Groove" Holmes, or Ike & Tina Turner. One of the bluesmen who has been contributing to that diversity is guitarist Dave Specter, whose Live in Chicago was recorded in August 2007 at two of the Windy City's blues clubs: Buddy Guy's Legends and Rosa's Blues Lounge. Specter, true to form, gets his inspiration from a variety of places, tackling everything from electric 12-bar blues on Chick Willis' "Feel So Bad" and Jimmy Rogers' "Out on the Road" (both of which feature singer Jimmy Johnson) to instrumental soul-jazz on "Is What It Is." Specter even embraces a country-rock song: Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got to Memphis," one of three selections featuring Tad Robinson on vocals. Specter and Robinson, however, don't approach "That's How I Got to Memphis" as country-rock, but rather as Southern soul of the Stax/Malaco variety — and considering that Hall was never a country purist any more than Specter has been a blues purist, it isn't terribly surprising that one of Hall's compositions would find its way to an R&B performance in a blues-oriented (though not blues-exclusive) environment. And speaking of R&B, singer Sharon Lewis' soul credentials make their presence felt when she joins Specter on "In Too Deep" and the gospel-ish "Angel" (which straddles the fence between the secular and the spiritual). Live in Chicago is a consistently rewarding demonstration of Specter's versatility.

Biography

Born: 21 May 1963 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A first-tier blues and jazz guitarist, Dave Specter, whether working solo as a bandleader or as a sideman for artists like Johnny Littlejohn or Son Seals, has always brought intelligence and sharp, crisp playing to the music table, a sort of contemporary version of T-Bone Walker. Born on Chicago's northwest side on May 21, 1963, Specter didn't pick up the guitar until he was 18 years old, but once he did, he never looked back. Early on he worked as a support player for Littlejohn, Seals, and the...
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Live In Chicago, Dave Specter
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