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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label Little Arthur Duncan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Little Arthur Duncan. Show all posts

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Scratch My Back - Little Arthur Duncan

Little Arthur Duncan (February 5, 1934 – August 20, 2008) was an American Chicago blues and electric blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter. He was a member of the Backscratchers, and over his working lifetime associated with Earl Hooker, Twist Turner, Illinois Slim and Rick Kreher Duncan was born in Indianola, Mississippi, United States, and initially learned to play the drums. In 1950, aged 16, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, and made acquaintance with both Little Walter, who helped Duncan to learn the rudiments of harmonica playing, and Jimmy Reed. He found work playing his harmonica by accompanying Earl Hooker, John Brim and Floyd Jones. Billed and henceforth commonly known as 'Little Arthur Duncan', he played primarily in and around Chicago, and built up a local reputation over the years. He appeared with his own band in the Backscratcher's Social Club, which he also owned. Duncan worked in construction during the 1960s and 1970s, so was restricted to playing and singing in the evenings. In 1989, Duncan recorded the album Bad Reputation, which was released on the Blues King record label. He later appeared on a compilation album, Blues Across America: The Chicago Scene, alongside Detroit Junior. In 1999, Duncan recorded for Delmark, who released Singin' with the Sun that year. On the album he was accompanied by the guitar player Billy Flynn. Live in Chicago followed in 2000. His final recording was Live at Rosa's Blues Lounge, which was a live album recorded in Chicago in August 2007. One music journalist noted "...spirited, gritty performances of Reed's "Pretty Thing," Wolf's "No Place to Go," and two Dixon favorites ("Young Fashioned Ways" and "Little Red Rooster") leave no doubt that Duncan lives and breathes electric Chicago blues." However, a subsequent lengthy illness and hospitalization meant that Duncan could not build on his success. Duncan died in Northlake, Illinois, in August 2008, from complications following brain surgery. He was aged 74  

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Delmark Presents :It Ain't Over - 55 Years Of Blues

I opened the mail yesterday and found a real treat. I received a copy of the recording, It Ain't Over celebrating Delmark's 55 years in business live at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. I have been in this club many many times and this would have had to be the blast of all blasts. The opening track finds powerhouse singer Zora Young doing some power funk with a backing band featuring Lurie Bell and Scott Cable on guitars, Roosevelt Purifoy on keys, Bob Stronger on bass and Kenny Smith on drums. Young's Till The Fat Lady Sings is a great opener for this show. Bell throws down some great blues riffs on the funk playing his 335 and as Purifoy starts to rap out the funk on the keys Young starts to channel the godfather of soul with some squeals that would make JB proud. The rhythm section on this band is remarkably tight and Cable gets in some hot riffs on his Strat. I notice three amps on stage throughout the night which appear to be a Brownface Vibroverb, a Pro Tweed and a Blackface Twin.
Next up is Jimmy Johnson who does two great songs; Cold Cold Feeling and You Don't Know What Love Is. Johnson's vocals are very strong and deliberate and grab you good. He also manages to squeeze some terrific blues solos out of what I have found to be in general a sterile guitar. It's like they say, Jeff Beck can play a toy guitar and it will still sound like Jeff beck. Well. this isn't a toy and Johnson knows how to play it really well. Johnson is backed by Dave Specter on guitar, Brother John Kattke on keys, Harlan Terson on bass and Marty Binder on drums. Kattke gets the opportunity to show his stuff on You Don't Know and Spector takes a cool second guitar solo on his Epi 335 with the mini pickups.
Aaron Moore takes the stage for two vocal/ piano numbers with Kenny Smith on drums. It's all about style and Moore delivers the goods on Wading In Deep Water and Why You So Mean To Me.
Little Arthur Duncan leads the next set of Pretty Girls Everywhere and I Got To Go of course featuring Duncan, ever the showman, on harp and vocals, Rick Kreher on Strat, Nick Moss on a JazzMaster, Bob Stronger on bass (Fender Jazz) and Kenny Smith on drums. I hadn't mentioned it earlier but Stronger is right in the pocket and always tight. Moss takes short crisp solos on each track.
Lurrie Bell is up next with Don't You Lie To Me and Reconsider Baby. Bell is joined by Purifoy, Stronger and Smith. He plays both pickups most of the time and seems to opt for more of a twangy single coil tone that really suits his playing style. (The more I watch this video the more I am impressed by Stronger's incredibly tight playing). Bell really digs in on Don't You Lie To Me and lays down a very cool shuffle solo. On Reconsider Baby Bells vocals are impressive and he has fattened up his tone somehow and really takes the 335 down. Some extremely impressive playing by Bell in choice not only of riffs and style but neck position for effect and dynamics.
Bell's crew stays on stage and they bring up Shirley Johnson to sing a terrific version of As The Years Go Passing By. Johnson has a great deep rich voice and Bell keeps stinging the tune with impeccable taste. Bell gets another chance to shine and he steps up. He is relentless on the 335 and squeezes every drop of blues out of it!
Eddie Shaw replaces Johnson with Bell and crew and rips onto the stage playing a great tenor sax into to For You My Love. He leads the band in vocals and Purifoy's presence is more prominent. Shaw blows some major league riffs and the place is hoppin. The Sun Is Shining, a great loping blues tune gives the band a great opportunity to stretch a little first with Shaw on tenor, then with Purifoy on keys and bell on guitar. This turns into a cool boogie jam.
Last up is Tail Dragger with the addition of Big D. on Harp, Kevin Shanihan on Strat for Tend To Your Business. Big D. takes a great swat on harp and the band lays back and lets TD have the floor. Bell takes a particularly articulate stretch on this track and Shanahan gets in a quick tasty shot of the blues. For the final track Tail Dragger does a great version of My Woman Is Gone. His vocals are impressive and the band is tight. Billy Branch joins on harp and blows out some terrific riffs.
This is a great show commemorating the 55th year of Delmark and the declaration of Delmark Records Day (March 7, 2008) in Chicago by Mayor Richard M. Dailey and the hard work done by founder Bob Koester of such a meaningful blues milestone.
Special features including a pretty insightful discussion of the history of Delmark, it's development and the blues. It's a great listen.
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