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Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials

Saturday, February 22, at the Grand Emporium.


Legend has it that when Ed Williams took his first step into a recording studio in 1986 -- invited at the request of Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer to contribute a couple of tracks to an anthology featuring aspiring Chicago blues acts -- he tore the place down. After getting two numbers on tape, the guitarist turned the studio into a stage, toe-walking and back-bending through 28 more songs in three hours without a single overdub. Twelve of those tracks became Roughhousin', the debut release from Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials. Born in 1955 on Chicago's West Side, Williams boasts a direct family connection to the city's blues roots. His uncle, slide-guitar legend J.B. Hutto, tutored Williams at an early age. Although Williams obviously took to his lessons, he also had to pay his dues, plugging away for nearly a decade in countless Windy City dives. Thanks to his animated onstage antics, his capable chops and a healthy dose of old-school mojo, Williams has become one of the most entertaining modern purveyors of Chicago barroom blues.

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