Michael Coleman‘s hefty reputation has been built upon the kind of “guitarist’s guitarist” credibility that few artists ever achieve. He was one of the favorite acts on North Halsted’s “Blues Alley” for years, before diabetes almost stopped his career in its tracks. After his doctor told him to lose 150 pounds and change his lifestyle, Coleman re-ordered his priorities and complied. He’s now stronger, healthy, and at the start of an epic second-act comeback career that most guitarists would be happy to have as their first act.
Coleman remains firmly in the best traditions of the Blues Kings, favoring Albert and Freddie more than B.B., with a trademark propulsive guitar attack that makes even the simplest jam into a force of nature. In Coleman’s hands, a slow blues is ecstatic, and a blues shuffle becomes positively anthemic, a trait that has made him a beloved club act worldwide. He makes every note count, letting the rhythm section carry the song while he focuses on melodic spice.
On the Spring 2010 Chicago Blues Tour, May 22, he appears at Rosa’s Lounge, a woody room where his guitar should sound fatter than usual, and an old-school tavern-style blues bar like those he made his name in as a rising star. If you get a ticket on the 7:40 departure to Rosa’s, you’ll be able to park yourself at a table near the stage for the duel between veteran Coleman and young turk guitarist Rob Blaine, who worked with lightning fast fretman Melvin Taylor for a time, and has the same fondness for multi-note progressions. The style contrast of this double-bill should be enlightening — with a sizable number of blues fans favoring either attack. These are only two of the many guitarists with varied styles who are featured on the Spring 2010 Chicago Blues Tour, including Chainsaw Dupont, Linsey Alexander, Vance Kelly, Chris Canas, and Donna Herula. You can read about all the guitarists by clicking “Guitarists” in the Featured Artists section at the left.