Eomot RaSun | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Eomot RaSun 

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Mississippi-born blues harpist Eomot RaSun, who grew up on Chicago's south side in the 50s, claims he knew he wanted to play as a kid, when he saw Carey Bell blowing his harmonica on a balcony. But he didn't break into the city's blues circuit until the 80s, when he started sitting in around town with artists like John Embry, Jimmy Rogers, and Pinetop Perkins. He's a strong-winded player with a squalling tone, and he peppers his simple but imaginative lines with fierce tongue stops and clever quotes from masters like Rice Miller and Little Walter. His 1999 debut, Three Days Walkin' (APO), offers up a lively set of traditional-style originals and Chicago blues chestnuts, and though his clear voice lacks intensity, he sings songs like his own "Walkin' These Blues Away" with a blend of youthful self-assurance and hard-bitten worldliness that recalls vintage Eddie Taylor. On "Sons Too Young," another original, his strident harp weaves in and out of Jimmy D. Lane's serpentine guitar line, recalling Muddy Waters's early-50s updating of traditional Delta stylings. RaSun's vocals don't find the right mix of anguish and affirmation on his reading of Little Walter's classic "Last Night," but his brief harp break fluently melds introspective middle-register flutters and ragged, mournful howls. The album's real showcase, though, is "Biscuits & Gravy": on this instrumental the harmonica sometimes seems to be playing two tones at once, warbling and rippling beneath a raucous, nonstop wail. Friday, 9:30 PM, Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage; 773-342-0452. DAVID WHITEIS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Fraher.

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