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With this issue, we introduce a new “After Hours” feature — “Aural Arguments.” From time to time, Legal Times resident musicologist, Senior Editor Bill Kisliuk, will cast a critical eye, or should we say “ear,” on several recent and related music CDs. This week, “Aural Arguments” sings the blues. Litigators and blues singers have at least one thing in common: they’ve got to make a strong impression right out of the gate if they’re going to win over their audience. That may be the reason why Candye Kane stomps up to the microphone in the first few seconds of her new CD, before the band kicks in, and growls out, “I’m the Toughest Girl Alive!” Then the horns punch the lights out, Steve Wilcox’s guitar rumbles, and the bawdy blues temptress is on her way with what seems to be the best and most consistent of her five CDs. Kane was a tough gal long before she became a singer. She was a 16-year-old mother leaning on welfare before she started her first show business career, as on-camera talent in a series of porn movies. Many moons later, the wild side of loving is still much on her mind on “The Toughest Girl Alive” (Bullseye Blues and Jazz), with originals including “Let’s Commit Adultery” and “Hey Mister! She Was My Baby Last Night.” Former Blaster Dave Alvin plays guitar on several cuts. Guitarist and singer Lonnie Shields has a more traditional blues story to tell. “Arkansas is my home, people, and Mississippi is where I roam. That’s where I paid my dues, and that’s why I’m singing these blues.” As the lyrics suggest, Shields’ stuff is coming straight from the roadhouses in towns like Tunica, Glendora, and Clarksdale, Miss., where Shields has played alongside some of the deepest Mississippi bluesmen still plying their trade. On “Midnight Delight” (Rooster Blues), Shields’ smoky voice and brittle electric guitar are at the fore of a mixture of blues and soul originals, both raw-boned and relaxed, that recall the work of B.B. King and Little Milton in the decades before they got slick and famous (or is it famous and then slick?). Shields was born in West Helena, Ark., and served apprenticeships in both funk and gospel groups as a youngster. Problems with the tax man, a faltering record label, and a decision not to perform blues in favor of gospel have all slowed Shields down since he made a splash with his 1993 debut, but this record proves again that he is the real deal. Nobody’s got blues bona fides like Robert Lockwood Jr., though. The 85-year old country blues guitarist is one of the last of his generation (David “Honeyboy” Edwards is another) still chugging along. Lockwood learned at the hands of legendary Robert Johnson, who was friendly with Lockwood’s mom in Turkey Scratch, Ark., and who eventually rambled around the Mississippi Delta with young Lockwood. Of course, that was just about 70 years ago, and Lockwood has long since earned his own place in blues history with spectacular 12-string guitar picking, most notably in evidence on a couple of amazing records that he did for the Trix label in the 1970s. The intense interplay between solo guitar and vocal that makes the Mississippi Delta blues so stirring is very much present on “Delta Crossroads” (Telarc), recorded last year. Lockwood’s own primordial jazz surfaces on “My Woman Came Walking Down,” and he does spirited versions of several Johnson songs, most notably “Stop Breaking Down Blues.” Bill Kisliuk is the senior editor at Legal Times. His e-mail address is [email protected]

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