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Big Joe Duskin 1921-2007

By Mike Breen · May 9th, 2007 · Spill It
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Cincinnati Blues legend Big Joe Duskin passed away May 6. He was 86 years old. With the death of H-Bomb Ferguson late last year, Big Joe was the last of the great Cincinnati bluesmen who was around as Blues was in its early stages, helping to shape and mold it into what it is today.

A Boogie Woogie Blues specialist, the pianist/singer not only helped with the initial architecture of one of America's greatest artforms, he also helped develop the future of the Cincinnati Blues scene by mentoring many up-and-coming musicians over the years. There are a handful of true "Cincinnati Blues legends" and Big Joe will forever remain at the top of that list.

In 2004, Duskin was inducted into the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame. At the ceremony, a wheelchair-bound Duskin (diabetes wreaked havoc on his physical condition as he aged) performed with an impressive collection of local music's finest players. The performance was a little sloppy, as the other musicians tried to lock into Joe's wandering playing. But the love and respect on the players' faces made it a truly transcendent moment.

Duskin provided stitching for the patch-quilt of Americana. We should all be so lucky to be able to say that when we die.

Aunt Tupelo
Local Folk/Pop band Tupelo Honey releases its new seven-song CD, Sweet, this Saturday at the Southgate House. The release party also features support acts Kelly Thomas and the Fabulous Pickups, Wojo, Pete Dressman and the Soul Unified Nation and Lauren Houston.

Capturing the barebones, lilting essence of Folk music couldn't have been an easy task for two suburban-born, Pop Rock-bred college girls. But Katie Wefer and Heather Turner, whose natural musicality had no plans to sit idly by, started with what they already had going for them -- two equally impressive sets of pipes, twin only in their matching emotive power. They went from there, adding violin, bongos and a rock-steady rhythm section. The product -- as bold and braless as it is shy and simple -- became a set of sweepingly organic stingers that rake in the stripped-down seriousness of Indigo Girls, Gillian Welsh's subtle masculinity and the sheer fun of Country darlings, the Dixie Chicks.

"Ian's Song" is the undeniable stand-out with loosely staggered, impeccably simple acoustic melodies and the kind of nuanced and empathetic vocal harmonies that, when emitted for the first time, cause two singers to stare in wide-eyed awe at one another, mildly unsettled at the prospect of such an effective combined effort. Perfect synchronization doesn't come without practice, though, as is clear in "Devuelve Mi Corazon," sung in fluent though clearly secondary Spanish. The track is one of surprisingly few youthful hiccups on a masterfully produced first effort -- and any concerns are immediately dispelled by the gorgeous "Believe Me Now," a heady come-to-Jesus ode that shows much wiser tones with darkly prophetic, Fleetwood Mac-esque violin/vocal pairings.

Soul-soothing Girl-Folk sets common themes of heartache and yearning against a backdrop of plucky thumbs-in-her-belt-loops sanity, a formula that abounds in "Leave Me Tonight," sweetly urging that universal and ubiquitous "him" to "Remember your woman will be just fine." Indeed.

(Hannah Roberts)

If Shake It Was Nine
... I'd bet they'd have some cool events to celebrate. Well, we're in luck, because the Northside record store is celebrating nine years of Shake It Records goodness this weekend with a variety of happenings. Along with the Charlie Louvin appearance Friday at 6 p.m. (see interview, page 46), the shop is co-presenting Music Show II -- Covers: Reimagined, Redrawn & Remixed with Publico, featuring work from 40 artists who have remade famous album covers. That exhibit takes place at the shop after the Louvin in-store Friday at 8 p.m.

Finally, the capper goes down Saturday at Northside's Gypsy Hut, as local music hero Kenny Smith plays only his second show in a few decades. The Soul singer extraordinaire re-teams with the members of Pearlene, who backed him at a performance last year, when he was inducted into the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame. Opening for Smith -- who had an interest-resparking CD compilation put out by the Shake It record label -- are The Delusionals, a new crew featuring former members of the Auburnaires, and Viva La Foxx. (shakeitrecords.com)



CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)Big Joe Duskin passed away May 6. He was 86 years old. With the death of H-Bomb Ferguson late last year, Big Joe was the last of the great Cincinnati bluesmen who was around as Blues was in its early stages, helping to shape and mold it into what it is today.

A Boogie Woogie Blues specialist, the pianist/singer not only helped with the initial architecture of one of America's greatest artforms, he also helped develop the future of the Cincinnati Blues scene by mentoring many up-and-coming musicians over the years. There are a handful of true "Cincinnati Blues legends" and Big Joe will forever remain at the top of that list.

In 2004, Duskin was inducted into the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame. At the ceremony, a wheelchair-bound Duskin (diabetes wreaked havoc on his physical condition as he aged) performed with an impressive collection of local music's finest players. The performance was a little sloppy, as the other musicians tried to lock into Joe's wandering playing. But the love and respect on the players' faces made it a truly transcendent moment.

Duskin provided stitching for the patch-quilt of Americana. We should all be so lucky to be able to say that when we die.

Aunt Tupelo
Local Folk/Pop band Tupelo Honey releases its new seven-song CD, Sweet, this Saturday at the Southgate House. The release party also features support acts Kelly Thomas and the Fabulous Pickups, Wojo, Pete Dressman and the Soul Unified Nation and Lauren Houston.

Capturing the barebones, lilting essence of Folk music couldn't have been an easy task for two suburban-born, Pop Rock-bred college girls. But Katie Wefer and Heather Turner, whose natural musicality had no plans to sit idly by, started with what they already had going for them -- two equally impressive sets of pipes, twin only in their matching emotive power. They went from there, adding violin, bongos and a rock-steady rhythm section. The product -- as bold and braless as it is shy and simple -- became a set of sweepingly organic stingers that rake in the stripped-down seriousness of Indigo Girls, Gillian Welsh's subtle masculinity and the sheer fun of Country darlings, the Dixie Chicks.

"Ian's Song" is the undeniable stand-out with loosely staggered, impeccably simple acoustic melodies and the kind of nuanced and empathetic vocal harmonies that, when emitted for the first time, cause two singers to stare in wide-eyed awe at one another, mildly unsettled at the prospect of such an effective combined effort. Perfect synchronization doesn't come without practice, though, as is clear in "Devuelve Mi Corazon," sung in fluent though clearly secondary Spanish. The track is one of surprisingly few youthful hiccups on a masterfully produced first effort -- and any concerns are immediately dispelled by the gorgeous "Believe Me Now," a heady come-to-Jesus ode that shows much wiser tones with darkly prophetic, Fleetwood Mac-esque violin/vocal pairings.

Soul-soothing Girl-Folk sets common themes of heartache and yearning against a backdrop of plucky thumbs-in-her-belt-loops sanity, a formula that abounds in "Leave Me Tonight," sweetly urging that universal and ubiquitous "him" to "Remember your woman will be just fine." Indeed. (Hannah Roberts)

If Shake It Was Nine
... I'd bet they'd have some cool events to celebrate. Well, we're in luck, because the Northside record store is celebrating nine years of Shake It Records goodness this weekend with a variety of happenings. Along with the Charlie Louvin appearance Friday at 6 p.m. (see interview, page 46), the shop is co-presenting Music Show II -- Covers: Reimagined, Redrawn & Remixed with Publico, featuring work from 40 artists who have remade famous album covers. That exhibit takes place at the shop after the Louvin in-store Friday at 8 p.m.

Finally, the capper goes down Saturday at Northside's Gypsy Hut, as local music hero Kenny Smith plays only his second show in a few decades. The Soul singer extraordinaire re-teams with the members of Pearlene, who backed him at a performance last year, when he was inducted into the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame. Opening for Smith -- who had an interest-resparking CD compilation put out by the Shake It record label -- are The Delusionals, a new crew featuring former members of the Auburnaires, and Viva La Foxx. (shakeitrecords.com)



CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com. Visit blogs.citybeat.com/spill_it.
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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