Too often, contemporary blues artists resort to sterile character studies, singing about the trials and tribulations of stock fictional characters instead of mining their own emotions. By contrast, Mem Shannon, one of the genre's last angry men, remains refreshingly candid about his own concerns. When this former taxi driver sings I'm sick of these S.O.B.s driving their SUVs, it's easy to picture him on the side of the road in his just-cut-off vehicle, middle finger extended out the window of the yellow cab door. In addition to his sharp, stand-up-style topical observations, Shannon excels at social commentary without playing the first-person card. He's an outraged witness, watching a proud elderly woman beg for change and wondering how it came to this. But Shannon's shows aren't bleak lectures -- thick waves of funk make them feel festive even when he scolds and seethes.