Music » Critics' Picks

Chris Thomas King

7 p.m. Thursday, February 16. The Gramophone, 4243 Manchester Avenue.

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In the hands of Chris Thomas King, blues is a foundation sturdy enough to support just about any walls he sets atop it. His work as Chris Thomas in the late '80s and early '90s is up-tempo rock painted in Technicolor; from there he produced the first-ever rap/blues hybrid record. His recent career has been more traditional, though sepia-tone album covers with names like Antebellum Postcards cannot mask his predilection for big production and radio-friendly hooks. You don't sell more than 10 million units, as he has, without an ear for mass appeal.

Zero Degrees of George Clooney: In O Brother, Where Art Thou? King plays Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson, who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for guitar chops.

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