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    JoJo Murray @ For The Good Times Lounge

    chicago soul singer jojo murray

    JoJo Murray

    Veteran soul singer JoJo Murray has been on the Chicago scene for almost 40 years, building a strong following as both an exciting performer and as an original songwriter. His songs are subtle propositions, balancing ironic hooks that don’t mean what they seem with a positive, self-reliant urgency that will haunt the back of your brain once you’ve heard them a few times. His song “I’m In Love” has a puzzlingly quirky guitar riff that doesn’t seem to make sense until you realize later in the song that it’s the unrequited kind, and then you just can’t get it out of your head; a ballad, “From the Inside”, is a double-entendre without sexual innuendo, poignant, sad, and hopeful at the same time. In the same way that someone like Elvis Costello subverts pop music, Murray’s songs subvert the soul blues genre, the thinking man’s alternative. His lyrics are simple and direct, but they carry existential weight, which makes them feel far more blues than soul, even though the changes are pure soul. He’s also a versatile artist, ranging stylistically from the balladesque “Southern Soul” to the more bluesy “hard soul” which was popularized in Chicago by artists like Curtis Mayfield, with the best of his songs sliding fully into the Chicago-to-Memphis soul blues that was a hitmaker for Little Milton, and it’s in those full-on blues tunes that the gentleness and grace of his approach becomes fully revealed. He sings in a rich baritone that swings, singing in long swooping phrases, powering his way through songs, but with a gentleness and subtlety rather than the histrionics favored by many singers in the genre. He’s a fan of Sam Cooke, and while his conversational, confessional vocal style clearly draws on Cooke’s mastery of narrative, Murray’s influences are much broader, which makes for a richly entertaining show that is fully his own in style and substance. He’s an underground gem that’s not a household name, but who’s developed a wide following the old-fashioned way — performing in clubs and writing great songs. There’s a sample of his artistry at the bottom of this post that you can listen to.

    This set as part of the Chicago Blues Tour, Sat. May 22 is at the friendly For the Good Times Lounge provides an intimate setting for Murray to showcase his storytelling skills. For the Good Times is a popular neighborhood hangout which featurs a wide variety of blues acts in a unusually cozy double-bar layout.

    If you grab a ticket for the 6:50 PM departure to For The Good Times Lounge, you’ll get dropped at the foot of the stage for the first set by JoJo Murray. Click the button below to grab tix.

    Register for Spring 2010 Chicago Blues Tour(TM) in Chicago, IL  on Eventbrite

    JoJo Murray singing “I’m In Love”:

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