Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater

West Side Strut

Born in Mississippi and seasoned in Chicago, 73-year-old bluesman Eddy Clearwater (né Harrington) learned his art on the Windy City’s West Side after moving there in 1950. Tutored by Magic Sam, he began working in bars on the South and West sides in 1953. Another influence was Chuck Berry and Clearwater’s high-energy double-barreled blues/rock won him fans on Chicago’s North Side, too. However, it wasn’t until 1980’s The Chief that he began to attract a larger audience. (Part Cherokee, the cover showed him wearing an Indian headdress.) Since then he’s recorded for a variety of labels with this being his first for Chicago-based Alligator Records. Using producer Ronnie Baker Brooks’ band, Clearwater works his way through 10 originals plus two covers, one of them a slow-paced version of Lowell Fulson’s “Trouble, Trouble,” (“trouble is all in this world I see”) and a far too hopped-up Muddy Waters classic, “Walking in the Park.” “Blue Over You” (my favorite) is a solid shuffle with harmonicist Billy Branch trading licks with Clearwater, while “A Time for Peace” and “Do Unto Others” are pleas for an end to hate and war.