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Friday, March 13, 2009

Milwaukee Blues Festival

Tonight @ The Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.

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For better or worse, in part because of Milwaukee’s proximity to Chicago, the city’s blues festivals are dominated by shredding, electric-blues guitarists, but the lineup at this gem of a festival prioritizes soul over volume. At 79, headliner Bobby “Blue” Bland still sends chills down audience’s spines with his soulful gospel tunes. Bland grew up just outside of Memphis, a hotbed for blues artists like W.C. Handy and Furry Lewis, and his music draws from that city’s unmistakable R&B tradition. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who never found commercial success that matched his critical acclaim, Bland will share tonight’s bill with Willie Clayton, Shirley Brown, Floyd Taylor, Theodis Ealey, Sir Charles Jones and Bobby Rush.