Son Little's 21st-century blues

Electronica, loops, and beats partner with dated reverberations

Son Little, aka Aaron Livingston, from Philadelphia
  • Son Little, aka Aaron Livingston, from Philadelphia

Blues for millennials. Which is another way of saying blues for an audience that doesn’t necessarily dig the blues. Or gospel either, for that matter. No bad on millennials. Blues, gospel, and soul is not their music. Nor is it the music of the middle-aged (and mostly Caucasian) audiences who have adopted the time-worn art forms in one version or another over the years. Some will recall the bands from the United Kingdom that introduced American pop culture to blues music during the British Invasion of the 1960s. It wasn’t their music either.

Son Little, "Lay Down"

Son Little is a stage name. He is in truth Aaron Livingston, from Philadelphia. Livingston has been Little since he released his first debut EP in 2014. How I see Livingston is like this: a young man, but with an older man’s 1970s ethos. He croons R&B music as believably as Al Green, and he intones gospel like he took lessons from Mavis Staples. Livingston has her inner supremacy down cold.

Past Event

Son Little and Jade Bird

  • Saturday, November 4, 2017, 8 p.m.
  • Soda Bar, 3615 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $15

And his guitar? Understated but sharp, played indolently, and ever so slightly off the beat. Sexy and true to form — but to a point of departure. His road band blends electronica, loops, and beats with Livingston’s dated reverberations, and they do it without elaboration. The music they make is a reconstruction of blues, soul, and American roots that is every bit as perplexing and true as was Gary Clark Jr. in 2012 when he released Blak and Blu, or Buddy Guy’s Sweet Tea.

This is a big step out of the pocket for Livingston, who fronted the Roots for a time and then sang the tracks on an album produced by RJD2. Now, out on his own, he is his own invention: Son Little, blues man. “I’m afraid your love will blow me away,” he sobs. “Am I dumb ’cause I numb the pain?” You can feel that sting from a mile away.

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