Critic's Choice

Pinetop Perkins

Pinetop Perkins, who appears Wednesday, May 14, at the Soiled Dove, is a human time capsule of American music history. Now ninety, Perkins once picked cotton for a living, played guitar and piano during the juke-joint heyday of the Mississippi Delta and gave Ike Turner his first piano lessons. After a knife attack ended his guitar-picking days, he went on to serve as pianist for Sonny Boy Williamson, B.B. King, Little Milton and Muddy Waters. The piano parts Perkins played with Waters are now essential learning for aspiring ivory ticklers, textbook examples of mood-heightening, never-in-the-way blues piano. But while most of his former bosses are either dead or merely going through the motions live, Perkins is still joyously vibrant and inspired. He continues to record and perform, trading his duties as a dependable sideman for his current role of bandleader. For his Soiled Dove show, he'll be joined by fellow Waters players Bob Margolin (on guitar) and drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Perkins's performance should be a dose of sweet relief in a time of war and a black-and-blue economy. He's living proof that the blues is all about joy and survival, not weeping and throwing in the crying towel.

 
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