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Chicago Rhythm and Blues Kings has been honing its blues chops on the club and festival circuit for nearly 20 years

Jumpin' With the Kings

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Though it is not as well-known as some longtime blues groups, the core of the Chicago Rhythm and Blues Kings has been honing its blues chops on the club and festival circuit for nearly 20 years. Speaking by phone from the Windy City, Kings trumpet player Don Tenuto says that the six-man group has fashioned a party sound that should please a crowd ready to blow off some after-work steam at the season's final Jumpin' concert. "It's straight-ahead stuff." Tenuto explains. "It's R&B in its purest form." Currently fronted by singer Ernie Peniston, the Kings trace their roots to the '70s when sax player Terry Ogolini teamed up with Larry "Big Twist" Nolan to form Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows. The band was a popular act in the Midwest and by the early '80s included the core of what is now the Chicago Rhythm and Blues Kings. With Big Twist, the band cut four records and brought their party blues to bars and festivals across the country as its popularity grew throughout the '80s. After Twist died in 1990, the Mellow Fellows continued recording and touring. But in 1993 the members decided a name change was due and the group was reborn as the Chicago Rhythm and Blues Kings. Lead singers have come and gone but the instrumental heartbeat of the band has stayed basically intact. On the road about 180 days a year, Tenuto says the Kings recently returned from the Montreal Jazz Festival and earlier played a two-week Paris gig. Thursday's show will feature original songs from the band's recently completed CD on Blind Pig Records plus original arrangements of blues standards. Tenuto says the band is not out to make any statements; the Kings simply make get-down dance music: "If there is any message…it's just tap your feet, have a good time." The Kings play at Jumpin' at the Virginia Museum on Thursday, Aug. 12. Tickets are $7 in advance and $8 the day of the show and can be purchased at the museum's events tickets desk or at seven Wachovia branch offices. Call 367-8148 for

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