Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-07-18
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

The Vanessa Davis Band; ZZ Top
BENT NIGHTS: MUSIC
by Vern Hester
2011-08-31

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Blues and more blues...

The last time that I saw Vanessa Davis and her band was in 1982 and my impression then was that one would not want to trifle with this woman. So it's hardly a shock that after 29 years the Vanessa Davis Band is just as hard-rocking, if not harder, than before. As the only out blues singer in Illinois (and maybe in the country) Davis has managed to go beyond mere art while her shows border on a religious fever.

Hitting Fitzgerald's tiny stage with a flirty, sassy "Rock My Blues Away," Davis and her band started the evening running. To say that this group proffers the most joyful blues in the Midwest may sound like a contradiction, but it's the truth. Davis—jamming on air guitar with her short dreads flying—was clearly wrapped in her joy while the band kept pushing her further. Even a standard blues lament like "Walking Man Blues" had such a rollicking bounce that it was impossible not to dance. (They should have advertised this show as a dance party since the tiny space in front of the stage stayed packed with grooving bodies.)

However, where so many blues artists rely on standards to the point of cliche (no, they did not do "Sweet Home Chicago") or embrace the blues as an end-all and be-all, Davis and Co. forged into pop and soul classics while reinventing and coloring them. Aretha Franklin's "See Saw" and "Dr. Feelgood" were transformed into blunt blues, taking "Lady Soul" where she would likely fear to tread. Sam and Dave's "Wrap It Up" was lacerating, unforgiving and, believe it or not, far more joyful then the original. A slow burning take on the Supremes' "Does Your Mama Know About Me?" gave Davis the chance to open up vocally while setting Doug Cannon loose on a searing sax solo. When Diana Ross first sang the song in 1969, her vocals and the sweetness of the production only hinted at its message of racial inclusion. Davis' take not only seemed to challenge the color line but also that of sexual identity without being overt or capsizing the song. (After all, it is a love song.) Was Davis making a statement? I can't say, but it still hit like a brick fist.

To be honest I had no intention of actually liking ZZ Top's recent show at The Venue. As that "Lil' Ol' Band from Texas," I had pretty much decided from the slightly misogynistic videos, deadpan low-key humor and monotonous sound that there just wasn't much there. That they hadn't released an album since 2003's Mescalero (RCA Records) didn't help, either.

However, I was wrong on all counts and was even made to feel dumb for it. Yes, ZZ Top is a party band with blues, drugs, wild women and fun times on the brain but the punchline is so subtle it's actually designed to be missed. The truth is that ZZ Top is having a good long laugh by twisting the cliches of Texas (the land of oversized, overdone and over-the-top) into salt-water taffy. The band's sound is big, sloppy and deliberately gnarly but live it's downright crunchy and irresistible.

As a band that prides itself on being from Texas there's not much twang in the sound but there is a certain laid-back, spacey, subtle humor masquerading as a bouncy harmless "coolness" that's reminiscent of, say, Dean Martin. The real joke is that all that sonic fury envelopes a simple aesthetic of goofy, harmless fun, fun and more fun. This actually neuters the misogyny; if you supplanted the genders of your choosing on "Legs," "Gimme All Your Loving" or "Tush," they would easily work as same-sex anthems. The hidden punchline of all the jokes is that, from their 3-foot-long beards to the hokey choreography to the matching outfits, ZZ Top warned us not to take them seriously.

All that mental processing went out the window as soon as Billy Gibbons (guitar), Dusty Hill (bass) and Frank Beard (drums) got onstage. "Got Me Under Pressure" had the clumsy lurch of a 10-ton truck with stripped brakes while "Jesus Just Left Chicago" blasted The Venue with the evening's first bong-induced joyride. The silly "Cheap Sunglasses" was followed by a furious take on Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe." Even that got topped by "Party On The Patio," itself a revved-up surf-rock rip that was as anachronistic as ZZ Top could possibly get.

Apart from the pile-up of hits at the end ("LaGrange," "Sharp Dressed Man," "Gimme All Your Loving") the biggest pleasure of the night was the inclusion of video clips of the band from 40 years ago when they were all clean shaven. I finally got the joke when I realized that they've had those beards for so long that I thought they were born in them and that I wouldn't know them if they walked up to me on the street and smacked me with a rubber chicken. Yuck-Yuck...


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Milly's Orchid Show Summer Musical Spectacular Extravaganza July 21 2018-07-18 - ( Chicago, IL ) Celebrating it's 30th year the variety show Milly's Orchid Show is thrilled to announce it's "Summer Musical Spectacular"—a one-night-only ...


Gay News

Diesel Tykes album release show July 22 2018-07-18 - The Diesel Tykes are celebrating the release of their full-length album, Songs For The Rainbow Family, by having a live show at Wishbone, ...


Gay News

MUSIC A more worldly Steve Grand, It's 'not the end of me' 2018-07-18 - Steve Grand has been through a lot. That much is evident on not the end of me, Grand's newest album. There are certainly ...


Gay News

NUNN ON ONE MUSIC Ezra Furman writes his 'queer outlaw saga' 2018-07-18 - Singer Ezra Furman continues to push the boundaries between gender, sexuality and religion on his latest album Transangelic Exodus. The songwriter was born ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Pose,' Jane Fonda, 'Queer Eye,' Queen Latifah 2018-07-17 - Janet Mock's directorial debut is one for the history books, NewNowNext.com noted. The writer, TV host and transgender-rights advocate directed the most recent ...


Gay News

NUNN ON ONE MUSIC Hayley Kiyoko's great 'Expectations' 2018-07-17 - Get ready for a new generation of musicians such as Troye Sivan and Hayley Kiyoko, who make no apologies for who they are. ...


Gay News

Milly's Orchid Show "Summer Musical Spectacular Extravaganza" 2018-07-11 - One-Night-Only Engagement Features Brigid Murphy as Host Milly May and Stars David Cale with Matthew Dean Marsh on Piano and Vocals, and More ...


Gay News

Legacy Walk to unveil Tchaikovsky exhibit Oct. 13 2018-07-11 - CHICAGO—One of the immortal composers of classical music, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, will join the ranks of such LGBQ icons as Alan Turing and ...


Gay News

MUSIC Marin Alsop, the maestra returns 2018-07-11 - Who is Marin Alsop? She is an internationally acclaimed conductor of classical orchestras and the first female music director of a major ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Pet Shop Boys, Oprah, 'Chicago' suicide, Idris Elba 2018-07-10 - Pet Shop Boys ( PSB ) will release the final set of albums in their CATALOGUE: 1985-2012 series of reissues of all their ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.