Sometimes, it almost seems Ronnie Earl is too busy making great music to make a name for himself. And that's a shame, because the guitarist is one of the most enlightened and entertaining performers in blues today. His sharp-edged, jazz-tinged solos -- at once solidly traditional and heavily personalized -- are the sort of masterful wonders that leave fellow musicians shaking their heads in awe.
The 45-year-old New York City native grew up in Boston, and it was there that his future was reconfigured by way of a single Muddy Waters show. In his twenties at the time, Earl opted to grab a guitar and follow the blues; in no time, he was a major figure on the Boston blues scene. His talent was so obvious and so extensive that it wasn't long before he was recruited by Rhode Island's Roomful of Blues, a long-recognized big-band training camp and talent conduit. In 1980, he replaced Roomful founder Duke Robillard (who joined the Fabulous Thunderbirds), working with the outfit for most of the decade. Earl then put that hands-on education to excellent use with a series of superlative solo albums (including last year's The Colour of Love), hitting the road again with his own band, the Broadcasters.
For all his East Coast affiliations, Earl -- a T-Bone Walker disciple and Jimmie Vaughan protege -- has never denied that his sensibilities are planted firmly in Texas soil. Always the adventurer in the studio, the guitarist pushes himself even further live, opening his receptors to all manner of enlightened influences while digging deeper into bedrock blues. He may blister through a funky Freddy King instrumental and, in the same set, navigate the angular beauty of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight."
-- Michael Point
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Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters perform at 9 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at Billy Blues, 6025 Richmond Avenue. Tickets are $15. 266-9294.
Jolene -- The lethargic In the Gloaming is an inauspicious major-label debut for a band of Jolene's beefy constitution. But given the talent and resiliency in the North Carolina quintet, the band's creative siesta should be short-lived. In fact, I'd venture that live, they still have enough bristling Blue Ridge authenticity coursing though their veins to lend Gloaming's soggy countrified rock a crisp thwack of immediacy, ultimately delivering on their resolutely Southern promise. And if they lean heavily on material from their previous release, the powerful indie effort Hell's Half Acre, all the better. On Friday, May 22, at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue. Show time 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $6. Grand Street Cryers open. 869-COOL. (Hobart Rowland)
Pissing Razors -- Hailing from "the wasteland of El Paso" (their words, not ours), this formidable thrash-metal quartet is packed full of sound, fury and, well, piss. The group took its name from a nasty medical condition the members picked up after a romp in a Mexican whorehouse. And, judging from the insanity vented on must-mosh numbers such as "Life of a Lunatic," "Season to Die" and "Silent Hatred" (all off their self-titled debut CD on F.A.D. Records), it must have been one hell of a lost weekend. Can a Gillette sponsorship be far behind? With Pro Pain and Eye Against on Saturday, May 23, at the Abyss, 5913 Washington. Tickets are $8. Doors open 8 p.m. 863-7173. (Bob Ruggiero