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Live At Rosa's Blues Lounge

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Album Review

Some of the most Chicago-sounding bluesmen didn't grow up in the Windy City but rather were people who moved there after growing up in the Deep South. Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, and Howlin' Wolf are perfect examples; all of them were born in Mississippi, but ultimately, Chicago was the place that did the most to shape their musical identity. Despite their Mississippi roots, all of them became closely identified with electric Chicago blues instead of acoustic Mississippi country blues of the Son House/Robert Johnson/Charley Patton variety — and Little Arthur Duncan is another example of a Mississippi native who moved to the Windy City, was greatly influenced by Chess Records, and wholeheartedly embraced the electric blues of his adopted home. In fact, electric blues don't get much more Chicago-obsessed and Chess-influenced than Live at Rosa's Blues Lounge, which documents a Windy City gig of August 18, 2007. This 65-minute CD underscores the fact that after Duncan made Chicago his home, he didn't look back. The veteran singer/harmonica player isn't a major name in the blues world, but he has been around the Chi-Town blues scene since the '50s — and 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. Vocally and technically, Duncan (who turned 73 in 2007) doesn't bring a tremendous amount of stamina to his Rosa Lounge performances, but he still has enough spirit and enthusiasm to make Live at Rosa's Blues Lounge a meaningful, worthwhile document of his live show.


Born: 1934 in Indianola, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Chicago blues singer/harpist Little Arthur Duncan was born in Indianola, MS in 1934 and raised on the same Woodburn Plantation as B.B. King. He relocated to the Windy City's West Side during the 1950s, often playing in the company of guitar great Earl Hooker; despite the unique harmonica sound produced by his custom of playing the bass notes on the right, for decades Duncan remained little-known outside of the Chicago scene, primarily appearing at his own Back Scratcher Social Club. In 1989 he cut...
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Live At Rosa's Blues Lounge, Little Arthur Duncan
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