Son Little Brings More “New Magic” to St. Louis

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Son Little Brings More “New Magic” to St. Louis

Photo Courtesy of Son Little.

Photo Courtesy of Son Little.

Photo Courtesy of Son Little.

Photo Courtesy of Son Little.

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It was a steamy night on Wednesday, Sept. 11, but the chilled tunes and calm presence of R&B and soul artist Son Little cooled down the evening for an intimate audience in Blueberry Hill’s famous basement concert venue known as the Duck Room. Blueberry Hill sits right in the center of St. Louis’s Delmar Loop and offers an exciting history of rock and roll for both St. Louis residents and travelers from around the world. In fact, the very first performance at the Duck Room in 1997 was none other than St. Louis’s “Father of Rock ’n’ Roll,” Chuck Berry. In its many successful years following Berry’s inauguration of the space, the Duck Room has hosted established artists and budding musicians alike—and Son Little stepped up to the challenge of following in their footsteps.

 

Before Son Little made his appearance, singer-songwriter and self-proclaimed Americana artist Samuel Herb took the stage as the opener of the show. His casual demeanor, witty lyrics and banter with the crowd brought an energy to the room, and like Son Little, he needed only his guitar and a microphone to do so. After his set, Herb walked through the relaxed crowd and introduced himself to the audience members. When asked why people should be excited about seeing him live, he said, “You get to know me if you come to my show!” He later added, “People should listen to my music because it’s a good time. It’s happy songs with sad lyrics.”

 

Meanwhile, it was clear that the members of the rather-small crowd were brimming with the anticipation of seeing Son Little perform. Aaron Earl Livingston—known mainly by his stage name of Son Little—released his debut EP titled “Things I Forgot” in 2014 and his most recent album “New Magic” in 2017. His music is what can only be described as the kind of artistry that blends the old with the new into a layered homage to the blues and soul traditions with a twist that is exclusively Son Little. It makes you want to close your eyes, soak in the soul and groove along with him. Livingston cited legendary artists like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding and Bob Dylan as some of his main musical inspirations, and it certainly isn’t difficult to hear their influence in his work.

 

When Son Little walked out on stage wearing a T-shirt and a bucket hat and carrying an acoustic guitar on Sept. 11, he seemed to have an immediate rapport with the audience. He started his set with a couple songs off of his debut album from 2015 simply titled “Son Little.” The third song, an upbeat tune from his latest album titled “O Me O My,” brought waves of excitement through the crowd; “Demon in the Dark” filled the room with emotion that was so thick it was almost tangible. In between moments of high emotion, however, Son Little provided his own brand of comic relief and interacted with audience members, often laughing to himself at their jokes while playing. The range of emotion, depth of musicality and sheer captivation of the audience displayed at a Son Little performance is astonishing given that it is a one-man, one-guitar show.

 

At the closing of the show, Son Little asked the audience members if we would rather hear something we already know or a brand new song that he promised none of us would have heard before. Almost everyone began shouting “both,” to which he gladly obliged. He finished out the night with one brand new song coming up on his next album—which was phenomenal— and the fan-favorite “Lay Me Down” from his debut album.

 

“I’m sort of knocking the rust off a little bit,” Son Little told me after the show, although he seemed anything but rusty to the crowd. “It’s been two years since ‘New Magic’ came out,” he continued, “and in those two years, I did a bunch of touring and a bunch of writing and I started working in the studio again, so I’m getting ready to bring out new material. I haven’t said that to anyone yet, so you’re going to be right on top of things.” He also let me know that the first single from his new album would be out on Sept. 18. This song, titled “Hey Rose,” is different than anything he’s released before—almost taking on a style that perfectly meshes the styles from his two full-length albums, while adding a modern, groovy edge. 

 

Son Little will also continue touring this fall with the stripped-down version of his show, which he says he has begun doing in order to “present [his songs] in a more intimate way to the fans and not give them the same old show—something a little more personal.” And there is, of course, an entire new album to look forward to, so it seems it’ll be an exciting time for Son Little and Son Little fans alike!