Koko Taylor's music is very much in keeping with the Chicago blues tradition: raw, electric blues, sung with considerable power and zest. As a woman working in a field long dominated by men, she's also something of a rarity these days.
Her band, the Blues Machine, wasted no time in livng up to advance notice at Desperado's last night. After charging into "Everyday I Have the Blues," lead guitarist Emmett Sanders modestly told the crowd, "We put a little kick into it."
"A lot of kick!" shouted drummer Billy Jackson, who was responsible for most of it.
Band members, especially Sanders, didn't let up when Taylor joined them. An undeniable sameness has crept into her concerts, but you can't fault the tunes or the energy she invests in her work. The one exception was a pale version of Muddy Waters' "Mojo," a song that should probably be retired in his honor.
"I Got What It Takes," on the other hand, was a forceful affirmation of her talent. She dug into the lyric almost chewing off each verse word by word. At times she assumed a defiant stance, but it was always tempered by a measure of humor and warmth. An obvious example is one of her most popular songs, and certainly a crowd-pleaser last night: "You Can Have My Husband, But Please Don't Mess With My Man."
Taylor and the Blues Machine return tonight.