Luther Allison
@ Bunkers, Friday the 13th, 9/13/96

Luther Allison
Photo © 1996 by Chuck Winans
A little funk, a little soul, a little rock, a little roll...and a whole lot of blues! Luther Allison's return engagement to the Twin Cities was just that and more. One word to describe his performance would be "electrifying". He started playing at around 9:40 and only did one verrrrrrry long set lasting three and a half hours. I don't know how he and his band can keep it going for that long and still deliver their high energy performance, but they sure pulled it off. Afterwards, after drying the dripping sweat off, Allison sat at the table in the back room and signed autographs and talked to his legion of fans. He is a very friendly and outgoing man.

Luther Allison is truly a blues legend and his two recent Alligator CD's (his first recordings in the U.S. in nearly 20 years) Soul Fixin' Man and Blue Streak and his awesome live performances have finally brought him the recognition he deserves. In the recent Handy awards he swept the top 5 awards, including best performer of the year. From here he was going to play at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago and then on to the Ann Arbor Blues Festival. A fitting end to this long tour for Allison. For it was at Ann Arbor in 1969 that he burst onto the blues scene stealing the show and becoming an overnight sensation. Luther Allison is coming full circle and riding higher than ever. As he put it during the show at Bunker's he is happy to be home again.

Luther was joined on second guitar by long time collaborator and friend James Solberg who served as the perfect foil to Allison's blistering guitar. It's hard to pick a highlight from the night because the entire show was just one long, pleasurable & intense experience. His Handy award winning song Cherry Red Wine was very well received by the packed house and when it came time for an encore things got even better. Instead of finishing off with just one or two songs, Luther just started playing, with each song or parts of songs just blending into one another in a wonderful mix of, soul, rock and blues.
Another remarkable thing about Allison's playing is his unique style. I would catch myself recognizing someone else's vocal or guitar style, song or riff and then find it magically transforming into something altogether new and extraordinary -- something that is completely Luther Allison. Part of the exciting finale was an entertaining You Are So Beautiful and a great take off of the Stone's You Can't Always Get What You Want. All I can say is wow! What an entertainer! What a show! This is one blues performer you don't want to miss the next time he is in town.

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Copyright © 1997 by Ray M. Stiles
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