By Theresa Allen, guest blogger
Low Down Dirty Blues offers audiences at the Lone Tree Center Arts Center a rollicking good time through October 27, 2018. The musical revue is set in the late evening in Big Mama’s Bar in the Southside of Chicago. Big Mama, Shake, Jelly, Calvin and Jameal are telling stories and jammin’ straight through the morning and you are privy to their performance.
Felicia Fields, Shake Anderson, and Chic Street Man belt out blues standards that filled the auditorium and brought the audience to its feet in appreciation. Even if you’ve never experienced the blues before, these singers work through a repertoire of songs that encapsulates a short history from the Delta blues sung by slaves in the fields to New Orleans blues sung in gin joints during prohibition to the present day Southside of Chicago blues.
As Big Mama, Felicia Fields’ throaty voice resonated in “They Call Me Big Mama,” “I Got My Mojo Working,” and the truly spectacular “Good Morning Heartache.” Fields is a strong personality who worked the audience with her humorous and playful charm, coming down from the stage and joking with audience members as she sang.
Shake Anderson gave an outstanding performance with his rich, deep voice on “Shake Your Money Maker,” but he brought the experience of the blues to a new level with his heartbreaking rendition of “Death Letter.” The repartee filled with sexual innuendo between Shake, Big Mama and Jelly provided for quite a bit of fun throughout the show.
Chic Street Man’s performance as Jelly, a blues guitarist from the Mississippi Delta, was outstanding and the rich depth of feeling in his version of “Change is Gonna Come” is still with me. The group would not be complete without the Calvin Jones’ remarkable performance on the bass and Jameal Williams noteworthy performance on the piano.
The set design, under the direction of Christopher Waller, and lighting design by Jen Kiser, captures the wonderful atmosphere of a shabby, downstairs dive bar with its brick walls, posters of Muddy Waters, electric Budweiser signs, jukebox, and wooden stage. The first act opens with the stage in a wash of blue hue but as the cast heats up with their songs, the stage takes on vivid reds and golds evoking the hot conversation on the stage coupled with the feeling of heartbreak and despair in the music.
At the end of the show, Fields asked, “Did you have fun? Then go home and tell all your friends! Tell them to come down to Big Mama’s!” And she’s right, don’t miss the show of the season!
Tickets for Low Down Dirty Blues are on sale now from $36 to $60 and can be purchased at http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org. Both matinee and evening performances are available. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.