Music » Critics' Picks

Dixie Hummingbirds

Friday, March 31, 8 p.m. The Sheldon Concert Hall (3648 Washington Boulevard)

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Out of all the great 1940s gospel groups, the Dixie Hummingbirds were the most exhilarating and influential, largely because of baritone singer Ira Tucker's frenzied showmanship (he was the first major gospel singer to storm the stage like the aisles of an enraptured church) and obstreperous vocal style, swooping in and out of diatonic and chromatic scales as if calling out Charlie Parker himself. The band subtly drew on pop cultural idioms in songs such as "Cool Down Yonder" and especially "Christian Automobile," a song that urged the faithful to check their brakes and pass up any hitch-hiking Satan. Now in their eighth decade, only Tucker remains from the classic lineup; the soul of their ecstatic sound, however, perseveres.

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