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Johnny Burgin to rock Carmel cafe

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Rockin' Johnny Burgin - RON KERN
  • Ron Kern
  • Rockin' Johnny Burgin


Normally Carmel's SoHo Café and Gallery is quiet enough to hear the espresso percolating. But on Thursday night, SoHo will be swinging with the sounds of the Chicago blues courtesy of Rockin' Johnny Burgin and his band. Burgin started playing and recording the blues as a University of Chicago student in the early 1990s.

By playing guitar and singing the blues with the likes of Tail Dragger and Jimmy Lee Robinson, he soon earned the moniker "Modern King of the West Side Blues Guitar." Together with his band, he scored a weekly spot at the Smoke Daddy, in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, and got signed to the prestigious Delmark Records.

But then he left the blues for almost a decade.

"I just took a break because I was raising a family and I just had too much on my plate," Burgin told NUVO in a phone interview.

During the early success that he found in his twenties, he said, he didn't yet have the sense of life experience that gives blues music its true depth and resonance.

"Prodigy wasn't quite the right word, but I was on the real fast track, you know? The music is deeper than that," Burgin said. "I can experience it better now. And it's a deeper and more meaningful experience not just for me but for everyone. Plus so much has changed. So many people are dead now who were around then. I think I've got a sense of the fleeting preciousness of everything."

People familiar with Chicago-style blues and/or Burgin's music might wonder what kind of musical feast he'll be serving up during his performance (along with Ed Kobek on drums and David Murray on bass).

You might get a sense of this by picking up the Rockin' Johnny Band's latest CD "Grim Reaper,"on the Delmark label, released in 2012.

But as to any specific songs he might play at SoHo, he's not giving anything away.

I keep everything as unplanned as possible," he said. "It's the best way for me to work. It all depends on how I feel. It depends on the mood of people."

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