Keith Little, Sr. has had a great impact on the blues scene in Cincinnati, Ohio. According to Michael Byrd, of WNKU radio in Cincinnati, Keith Little is Cincinnati's own "King Of The Blues" and one of the jewels in what Byrd refers to as the "Queen City blues movement." Little's second CD, Going Downtown: Live At Jefferson Hall, is a well done live recording featuring nine original tunes written by Little and one co-written by Little and keyboard player, Tom Nelson.
In addition to Nelson on keyboards, Little is supported by Chris Arrington on lead and rhythm guitar; Lawrence Bloomfield on harp; and Keith Little, Jr. on drums. Little, Sr. is the star of the show and serves primarily as the bass player and vocalist for the evening. However, he displays his musical versatility by performing on guitar, drums and keyboards on various tunes through the evening.
Interestingly, whoever engineered this CD chose to minimize the crowd noise on the recording. This means that you really have to listen closely to the CD to actually realize that it was recorded live. Songs are not introduced on the CD and there is very little interaction heard between the band and the audience. In fact, the most significant indication that this is a live recording is the introduction by Michael Byrd of WKNU radio and the introduction to start what appears to be the second set of the evening by Everett Cork of WCIN radio in Cincinnati.
The songs presented on the CD offer a nice mix of tempos and sounds for the listener. Little's smooth, soulful voice is apparent throughout the CD and the band offers some nice solo breaks on guitar, harp and keyboards. The recording starts strong with "Mr. Little Got The Blues," featuring some nice harmonica fills by Lawrence Bloomfield and a sharp guitar solo by Chris Arrington. For the title track, "Going Downtown," Little shifts to guitar for an interesting shuffle that includes a nice guitar solo by Little and more clean harmonica by Bloomfield. The first "set" concludes with a song entitled "Walking In The Sunshine," a long slow blues that opens with a dialogue between Little and the audience. The song tells a nice story about the desire to be experiencing the good times and running into the bad times instead. This song features some nice keyboard by Tom Nelson and lead guitar by Chris Arrington.
Highlights during the second half of the CD include the opening song, "Love Somebody," a funk style tune featuring The Jerkin Gherkin Horn Section that includes Scoot Jacobs (baritone sax); Marc Bolin (trombone; John Hatley (tenor sax); and David "Buzz" Taylor (trumpet). "Trying To Get By" is another slower number that features a great guitar solo by Chris Arrington. The CD finishes with "Confession of Love" that features Keith Little on keyboards. Although the song is slow, it comes across as very powerful and offers a nice conclusion to this live CD.
If you like the blues with a soulful sound, Keith Little offers a sound that will stir your soul. The recording is a good listen and demonstrates the talent and versatility of Keith Little. Hopefully, through this CD, Cincinnati's "King of the Blues" will start to cultivate an audience outside of the city and across the country.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.