Music » Livewire

Andre Williams

With Dan Melchior's Broke Revue and Geraldine. Saturday, November 20, at the Beachland Tavern.

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It's a tall order to remain the biggest badass in the R&B world for damn near 50 years, but living-legend Andre Williams has managed to do it with verve, style, and an impeccable wardrobe. He first hit the scene with his 1956 smash hit "Jail Bait," a hilariously funky jam that warned, "Even 17 and a half is jailbait."

While continuing to crank out the coolest spoken-word raps this side of Iceberg Slim, Williams took a day job at Motown and wrote the definitive dance tune "Shake a Tail Feather" for the Five Duo Tones -- which went on to define '60s nostalgia in the films The Blues Brothers and Hairspray. Unfortunately for his career, Williams left Motown in 1965. He cut several classic sides for Chess and spent a chunk of the '70s with Ike Turner -- who introduced Williams to both Peruvian marching powder and the gutter.

But the gutter doesn't stain cats like Andre Williams. In 1997, he was "discovered" by garage rockers the Demolition Doll Rods. A year later, his career was reborn with Silky, a Caucasian collaboration with blues deconstructionists Jon Spencer, the Dirtbombs, and a pre-White Stripes Jack White. Since then, he's released four more records, including Red Dirt, a brilliant country album with Williams' Alabama roots sprawling out of the wax, and his current live opus, Holland Shuffle. When Williams hits the Beachland, buckle your seat belt and (as he puts it) be prepared to get Agile! Mobile! and Hostile!

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