Blues News

"THE CAB-DRIVING BLUES guitarist," a.k.a. Mem Shannon, certainly has his shtick down (as if nine out of ten blues musicians don't still have straight jobs). But don't let the marketing ploy get in the way of hearing Shannon's strong, tasty, fun-lovin' licks. Actually, the marketing works because Shannon's tunes have a great ear for the attitudes and vernacular of a beneath-the-radar lifestyle, and his vocals impart a conversational wisdom buttressed on his debut by taped chats with his fares in his back seat. He's got his fatalism and casual hedonism down pat, which he delivers with a cross-pollinated blend of blues, soul, and light funk that betrays his New Orleans roots. Friday. 9:30 p.m. The Blues Saloon, corner of Western and Thomas in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul; 228-9959... The former guitarist for late zydeco king Clifton Chenier, Sherman Robertson went on to play with Terrance Simien and the Mallet Playboys. Robertson's own Code Blue CDs (especially his label debut, I'm The Man) bristle with pure Texas blues power. On the up-tempo numbers, he favors the jagged melodicism of Freddie King, while his ballads lean toward the cavernous tone and quick, tasty bursts of Stevie Ray Vaughan. His vocals are standard issue--gruff and beseeching--and sound just fine backed by his taut ensemble, which helps churn out superb blue-collar dance music. Saturday. 9:30 p.m. Also at the Blues Saloon, St. Paul; 228-9959.

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