Clarence (Gatemouth) Brown and Muddy Waters stalked the blues from the Louisiana swamplands to Chicago's South Side and beyond last night at the Bayou. The pair displayed quite different yet complementary styles before a capacity crowd. Brown's music is unique: part Cajun, part country, part blues, part swing and a pinch of virtually anything else he can adapt to guitar or fiddle.
On guitar his playing was consistently fluent and colorful, whether keeping pace with his two saxophonists on a brassy shuffle, peppering other tunes with quotes from "St. Louis Blues" and "Salt Peanuts" or opening up the throttle on Duke Ellington's "A Train." On fiddle, he sawed through a rousing Texas polka and offered yet another of his patented hybrids, this time a spicy Cajun rocker with an infectious beat.
Waters' raw, uncompromising blues contrasted sharply. While his current band, which features Lovie Lee on piano and Mojo Buford on harp, hardly ranks with his best, there was no denying the power and momentum Waters brought to his set. At 66, he still sings such Chicago classics as "Hootchie Cootchie Man" and "Mojo" with surprising vigor and his slide guitar still reflects his Mississippi roots as poignantly as ever.