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Jimmy Dawkins Presents The Leric Story

(Delmark; US: 15 Jun 2010; UK: 20 Jul 2010)

A grab-bag of blues from a forgotten Chicago label

Leric Records was the brainchild of Jimmy Dawkins, a Chicago-based guitarist who started the label in the ‘80s in an attempt to capture the rootsy, electric-blues traditions of his home city. This compilation is a strong collection that argues convincingly that the label fulfilled its mission. The songs feature twanging guitars, swinging horn sections and the kind of energy that one would expect from a roadhouse on Saturday night.

There’s too much diversity to go into each track here, but the record contains a wide range, from the pulsing rhythm and smooth vocals of Little Johnny Christian’s “Luv Somebody”, to the mournful harmonica and gravel-in-the-blender vocals of Tail Dragger’s “My Head Is Bald”. Double entendres abound in “Use What You Got” by Vance Kelly, while Queen Sylvia’s “I Know I Ain’t Number One” offsets her tremulous alto against impossibly spiky, staccato guitar leads.

The record ends with a pair of gospel songs, “My God Is Real” and “Peace be Still,” courtesy of Sister Margo and the Healing Center Choir. They’re not exactly blues tunes, but they represent the label, and somehow manage to fit right in with the rest of the album.


DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.

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