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Chris Cain

Friday, August 19, at Wilbert's.

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Along with such players as Robben Ford, guitarist Chris Cain has bridged the gap between traditional blues and jazz fusion, creating a contemporary blues strain that both draws from the roots and delivers fresh, breezy grooves. Matching his dual guitar vocabulary with grown-up vocal and lyrical skills, Cain is one of the more singular figures in blues.

Cain's upbringing couldn't have been more blues-friendly. His dad's childhood stamping ground was Memphis' Beale Street, the epicenter of southern blues. Pops was quick to expose Cain to blues-guitar culture, and the B.B. King influence that looms at the core of Cain's style surely started seeping in during his first B.B. concert, caught at the age of three. By the time he was eight years old, Cain had taught himself to play; his jazz leanings first became a part of his style when he studied music as a teenager. His 1987 debut recording, Late Night City Blues, netted four W.C. Handy Award nominations, including one for Guitarist of the Year. Cain's most recent album, 2003's Hall of Shame, may be his best. His hybrid playing has mellowed to a stylistic peak, ignited by solo work both highly inventive and stone blues-bound.

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