Chicago has never cornered the electric- blues market, though it may have seemed that way in the early '50s when Muddy Waters and Chess Records came into their own. Long before that, Texas had T-Bone Walker. His big, brash sound, adapted by Gatemouth Brown and B.B. King, is now being revitalized by Johnny Copeland.
On "Make My Home Where I Hang My Hat," Copeland's second album in as many years, the veteran guitarist plays and sings with a seldom-heard visceral intensity. He doesn't swing the blues as freely as Walker or Brown, but his arrangements, frequently punctuated by an insistent horn section, reveal an obvious debt to the blues and build similar momentum.
The best songs capitalize on Copeland's gritty vocals and barbed guitar solos. The title tune and "Cold Outside" are standouts: The first soulfully evokes the urban tension of lost dreams and empty pockets; the second is a mournful lover's prayer.
Unlike Copeland's last album, this one doesn't boast the likes of Arthur Blythe or George Adams. But Copeland's band is top- rate: the horns vibrant, the rhythms solid and the blues pervasive. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM JOHNNY COPELAND -- Make My Home Where I Hang My Hat (Rounder 2030). THE SHOW JOHNNY COPELAND, Saturday at 9 and 11 at D.C. Space.