Aaron Griffin has handed me his first effort at recording, and it’s surprising and reassuring to see just how fine and unerring this 16-year-old guitarist/singers’ instincts are for the blues & R&B traditions St. Louis has always known. As old time people used to say, fruit never falls far from the tree: Aaron’s father, Larry Griffin, has long been a respected, deep dish blues guitarist, having played countless nights in the demanding St Louis club scene, toured and recorded in the US and Europe, while also encouraging his talented son to follow that same path and tradition. The evidence here clearly shows his mentoring was not in vain.
We hear Aaron’s mastery of Albert King, and that gruff man’s template for economic phrasing and tone. Go to each song here and understand how Griffin is saying ‘I know/feel & understand what this song/style/artist is saying’, and playing it with feeling and swing. Rarer still, we not only have a 16-year-old player operating on a very high level as an instrumentalist, but also as a singer---I was surprised at how (again that word) unerring Aaron’s voice tackles songs usually sung so knowingly by men much, much older. Listen to how he takes to the instrumental blues steeplechase of Freddie King’s The Stumble, making it yield to his easy handling. Wisely, Aaron has also chosen a crackin’ horn and harmonica spiced ensemble for his maiden blues voyage.
With “Mojo Rising,” Aaron Griffin now has a fine basis for a career in the demanding world of top-notch blues artists, if he so chooses. I’m looking forward to just where he’s going next time.
Tom ‘Papa’ Ray
aka The Soul Selector
88.1 FM, KDHX