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Little Victor to present two energetic shows

Blues performer set to play at Joe's Great American and Viva Cantina.

January 20, 2014|By Jonny Whiteside
  • Blues player Little Victor plays at Joe's Great American in Burbank on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, photographed on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014.
Blues player Little Victor plays at Joe's Great… (Raul Roa, Glendale…)

If you dig Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn, you're going to hate Little Victor, an untamed maverick whose raw, primitive sounds are the utter antithesis of the contemporary blues model. The offbeat singer-guitarist, who appears at Burbank's Joe's Great American and Viva Cantina this week, eschews the genre's prevalent trend for streamlined six-string virtuosity in favor of wild shouting, stabbing guitar and heavy, almost hypnotic, rhythmic repetition.

It's very rough stuff, but is deeply rooted in blues tradition, and in Little Victor's case, was learned firsthand at the side of such hallowed blues masters as Louisiana Red and Hubert Sumlin.

"I'm an Air Force brat, my father was from Arkansas, my mother was Sicilian and I lived all over Europe when I was growing up," Victor said. "A lot of the other service men were Southern blacks, I played with all their kids, I had a black nanny, and because of that, growing up, the blues were all around me, they were everywhere."

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Born Victor Macoggi in 1967, he continues to lead the life of an itinerant bluesman, albeit on an international scale. His musical roots are formidable: As a teenager, he began spending his summers in Memphis, Tenn., visiting some very well blues-connected relatives; his uncle is revered University of Memphis enthno-musicologist David Evans and his cousin is Tav Falco, leader of the long-running underground blues-rockabilly art group Panther Burns.

Between the two, Victor was able to marinate in the rich Memphis blues tradition, first as a listener, then by direct exposure to such Tennessee blues pioneers as Jesse Mae Hemphill (AKA She-Wolf) and veteran Memphis street musician Uncle Ben Perry ("the King of W.C. Handy Park") and, in short order, as active co-conspirator.

"I was jamming with Uncle Ben on Beale Street six days a week when I was a kid, and sometime I'd sneak into a few of the clubs and bring my harmonica, playing whenever I could."

Before long, he was riding through the blues jungle in high style. "I met [Howlin' Wolf's guitarist] Hubert Sumlin and had the chance to play with him for three years," he said. "Then I met Louisiana Red, he was recording at Chess in '53 with Little Walter, Muddy Waters, all those guys, and he was totally under-estimated and underappreciated here, so he moved to Europe."

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