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DVD Review -- Little Arthur Duncan

LITTLE ARTHUR DUNCAN

 Live at Rosa’s Blues Lounge

Delmark Records

little-arthur-dvd

 

By Dave Glynn

     The recent passing of Little Arthur Duncan finally gave me the fire to get off my butt and review this DVD, “Live at Rosa’s Blues Lounge.”  As another great Bluesman leaves us, fortunately he leaves behind an excellent documentation of one his live performances at Rosa’s in Chicago.  The great Bob Koester, Delmark Records/Jazz Record Mart, is behind the production and recording of the event, with Tom Koester directing and Steve Wagner rounding out the production with editing and supervision. 

 

     Overall, this is a great capture of a live performance by Little Arthur Duncan, whose career weaved in and out of several decades but began in Indianola, Mississippi.  Arthur tutored under the best, especially Little Walter for whom he was nick-named.  Before arriving in Chicago in 1954, Arthur detoured to Key West, Florida where he met Blues guitarist Earl Hooker who moved with him to Chicago.  Arthur sat in with and learned from Billy Boy Arnold and Carey Bell in addition to Little Walter.  Little Arthur was a Maxwell Street regular and later Arthur owned two clubs on the West Side of Chicago that also gave him great exposure to the Blues acts during the ‘80s.  Those acts included Mighty Joe Young, Tail Dragger, Johnny B. Moore and Little Smokey Smothers.  After Arthur’s last club, Backscratchers, closed down, the musician began playing out and recording. 

 

     Little Arthur’s style is truly Chicago blues and he was both a songwriter and performer.  The DVD features four songs written by Arthur and the rest of the tunes are a mix of Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Slim Harpo and other great Chicago Blues songwriters.  Arthur’s performance style is dynamic and out-front.  He works the audience with his vocals and his energy.  Even when he sits, he conveys a good time.

 

     His band has a fine resume with Illinois Slim (Eddie Taylor) and Rich Kreher (Muddy Waters) on guitars, Michael Azzi (Eddy Clearwater) on bass, Twist Turner (Buddy Guy, Jimmy Reed) on drums and Little Al Thomas guesting on one number .  Most importantly about his band – they are a true supporting act and don’t overshadow Arthur in any way. 

 

     Songs that stand out are the opener, Arthur’s own “Leaving Mississippi,” Little Walter’s “I Got to Go,” Slim Harpo’s (James H. Moore) “Scratch My Back” where Arthur goes out into the crowd, Howlin’ Wolf’s “44 Blues,” and Arthur’s “Bad Reputation” that showcases the band a bit more than other numbers.   A special treat is track 15, “I Got Find My Baby” that features Little Al Thomas on lead vocals, while Arthur apparently was on break.

 

     If you want to know what it’s like to catch a great Chicago Blues act in a Chicago Blues nightclub, you’ve come to the right place with this DVD.  If you want to see the late, great Arthur Duncan, you’ve also come to the right place.  This is an excellent item to add to the Blues collection and a great introduction to the Chicago Blues for any new student of the Blues.  Arthur Duncan will rest in peace, but this DVD will live on; enjoy it!

 

“Little Arthur Duncan Live at Rosa’s” is available at the Jazz Record Mart in Chicago and on the Web at http://www.jazzmart.com/.

 

About the author: Dave Glynn is the Publicity Chair of the Blues on the Fox Festival in Aurora at http://www.bluesonthefoxaurora.com

Dave is also lead singer of the Empty Can Band at http://www.emptycanband.com.

 

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