Music » Livewire

Michael Burks

Friday, February 6, at Wilbert's.


If you can imagine Albert King reborn during the age of rock and funk, you can begin to draw a bead on guitarist/vocalist Michael Burks. The deep, smoky vocals of King at his strongest are conjured when Burks lays into one of his typical numbers: a mix of blues and R&B that evokes King's mid-'70s work.

On guitar, Burks comes from a more contemporary place. His rapid-fire, high-energy approach suggests that he grew up plugged into the Hendrix generation of rockers as well as the old blues masters.

Burks experienced a sort of reverse migration for a bluesman. Born and raised in Milwaukee, he returned with his family in the early '70s to his father's native Arkansas, where they built and ran a juke joint that would serve as Michael's musical training ground. Burks led a house band that backed many a touring R&B luminary and no doubt anchored his own blues, R&B, and funk fusion. Since those days, Burks has made his mark on the festival circuit and has toured overseas. His third album release, last summer's I Smell Smoke, delivers fully on all fronts and amplifies Burks's reputation as one of the blues world's rising stars.

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