Along with Bernard Allison, Melvin Taylor and a handful of others, guitarist, singer and songwriter Chico Banks is part of the new generation of Chicago blues players who are expanding the boundaries of this often maligned, misunderstood music. Like Allison and Taylor, and even older Southern musicians like Larry Garner and Sherman Robertson, Banks focuses on good-time, upbeat blues.
Banks' music may not impress blues purists -- he freely mixes in elements of soul, funk and rock -- but when a musical form remains too static, as the late Luther Allison would say, it loses its vibrancy. He credits influences from a mixed bag of artists from the 1960s and '70s: "Magic Sam" Maghett, Buddy Guy, Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Clay, George Benson and Tyrone Davis. But his playing also reflects the contribution of jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, and the funk of Prince, the Isley Brothers, the Ohio Players and Parliament/Funkadelic. Also not to be overlooked is his father, Jesse Banks, who played with the gospel group the Mighty Clouds of Joy.
Since joining his first band, a Top 40 cover group, at 14, Banks has performed with Johnny Christian, Evidence labelmate Melvin Taylor, Buddy Guy, Otis Clay, James Cotton, Artie "Blues Boy" White, Little Milton, Magic Slim, Big Time Sarah, Chick Rogers and most recently, Mavis Staples. Banks' sessionography includes albums by Willie Kent, Freddie Roulette and Pops Staples.
Candy Lickin' Man, Banks is joined by the great gospel singer Mavis Staples, who also contributes liner notes. Although only in his 20s, Banks is already a veteran song interpreter; he covers classics like "Groove Me," "Got to Be Some Changes Made" and "The Sky Is Crying," putting his own individual stamp on each tune.