How many newlyweds debuted on the dance floor to the strains of Etta James' "At Last"? A master of the soaring ballad, James is equally adept at blues and gritty R&B. Born Jamesetta Hawkins in 1938, James first topped the R&B charts in 1955 with "The Wallflower." In the 1960s, her alliance with Chess records propelled 30 singles onto the R&B charts and nine hits into pop's Top 40. Blues to the Bone (RCA), her most recent album, was inspired by Martin Scorsese's documentary The Blues. James noticed the small number of women among the early blues pioneers and decide to put her own spin on classics by Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker. Famed for her sometimes-risqu live performances, she might tone down the innuendo now that her band includes sons Donto and Sametto. Either way, James will likely follow her tradition of mixing up material from every era of her career. Tickets $45.
8 p.m. Sunday, July 10
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 529-BLUE; www.hob.com
- Alan Mercer