Playbill: John Egan

Unless you follow the local music scene closely, John Egan probably just seems like another obscure local talent who would move elsewhere if he had good sense. If Egan lived in Atlanta or LA or DC, he'd be in high demand. Here in Restaurantville, where dining out has far more cachet than live music as an entertainment form and public pastime, Egan is just another picker, another name in six point type in the music listings, another anachronism struggling to keep his art alive.

And what an art Egan practices. A funny, mild-mannered guy as a civilian, when Egan pulls out his shiny National steel 6-string, plugs it in to high voltage, puts his right foot on an amplified wooden stomp box, and taps his effects pedals, he calls up spirits -- ghosts like Chris Whitley, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell. And when the man leans in to songs like the riveting "100 Proof," he sings in a voice that reminds you of The Exorcist. It's a wonderful voice, but it doesn't belong in that body, in that man.

Since emerging from an extended performing hiatus, Egan has built up a loyal following at the Mojo Risin' Coffee Shop. He seems completely surprised to have anyone attend at all, even more surprised when people walk up with money in their hands and ask for his CDs. Some nights he actually remembers to bring some CDs and he takes their cash. Other nights he just shrugs and says he'll be back in a few weeks. Unless he moves to Atlanta, of course. - William Michael Smith

John Egan performs today, February 1, at Mojo Risin' Coffee House, 1600 Shepherd Dr., 713-426-1505.

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