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Arthur Williams and the Bluesmasters: Harpin' On It

Ed Kopp By

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Here's a danceable, soulful blast of harmonica-driven blues from Arthur Williams and the Bluesmasters. Harpin' On It offers up a succession of jumpin', jukin' tunes that showcase the leader's funky harmonica and all-out vocals. Factor in Bob Lohr's fast-pumping piano, and the boogie really burns on this one.

Born in Mississippi, 61-year-old Arthur Wilson was tutored by Little Walter and played with Chicago blues legends Elmore James and Muddy Waters. Williams returned to the Delta in the late '50s and teamed with Frank Frost and Sam Carr. These days Williams calls St. Louis home, and he's assembled an excellent combo that includes St. Louis drummer/vocalist James "Boo Boo" Davis. Davis contributes four tunes to this album, including the fast-cookers "Ain't Goin' Back To East St. Louis" and "Goin' To Memphis."

Harpin' On It's 11 tracks also feature tunes by Jimmy Reed ("Can't Stand To See You Go"), Little Walter ("Mean Old World"), and Williams himself (the instrumental "Harpin' On It").

Williams blows rapid single-note lines and wicked bends on harp. He also sings with heartfelt intensity. His band out-and-out cooks, particularly ace piano man Bob Lohr. Call this a fine collection of Chicago-style blues infused with the spirit of St. Louis.

Title: Harpin' On It | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Fedora Records

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