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10 Feb 2020

Rhythm, Blues and the Good News: Son Little Brings a New Album and Smooth Jams to Pappy and Harriet's

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Son Little. Son Little. Shervin Lainez

Take the best parts of gospel music; add some blues and soul; and tie it all together with a silky-smooth delivery—and you’ve got Son Little.

Aaron Livingston, aka Son Little, has been charming audiences for more than 15 years with soft jams that give listeners chills. Check out tracks “Lay Down” and “Neve’ Give Up” to hear what I mean.

Son Little is set to perform at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Saturday, Feb. 15, to a sold-out crowd. I spoke to Livingston over the phone about getting back on tour, and how he got his stage name.

“I had a neighbor who used to tell all of his friends that I was his kid, so people started calling me ‘son’ based off that,” Livingston said. “This woman I worked with started calling me ‘little son.’ I guess one day, I just kinda started turning it backwards.”

The name Son Little isn’t the only thing that stands out about Livingston and his music. Listen to his records, and note how he is able to combine and move through musical styles with subtlety and elegance. Just listen to the first three tracks on his self-titled album, from 2015, as he goes from a gospel song, to an electronic song, to an R&B ballad. He attributed this ease with multiple genres to his upbringing, as Livingston spent his youth living on both coasts.

“I used to come back to New York in surf clothes after spending summer in L.A., and listening to N.W.A. and Geto Boys,” he said. “It was kinda the beginning of opening myself up to all different styles, and it made it easy to branch out to Cuban jazz or Puerto Rican jazz, African highlife or Afro-pop.”

I spoke to Livingston on his third day back on tour, and he was still re-adjusting to life on the road.

“Muscle memory is trying to gather right now,” Livingston said. “I’m trying to get my sea legs back. I’m doing something a little different this time, as I just played solo in the fall, and now I’m rolling with a trio. It’s a different feel, and it’s pretty cool. I got drums, and keys with the bass parts on the left hand. It’s nice and simple, and it’s great.

“I love both sides of the coin—being in the studio and being on the road. I wouldn’t trade one for the other, but I do enjoy getting out on the road and sharing music with the people face to face. It’s a different energy completely, and it’s very rewarding.”

Livingston has been active in the music scene since 2004, and I asked him to talk about some stand-out moments from his career.

“There have been so many amazing moments; I look at all of it as such a blessing,” Livingston said. “I feel like I have stand-out moments every day. From recording this record, to spending time in Paris, or just being able to see great spots in nature—every day, I have moments like that. It’s really all one big highlight reel.”

As for that aforementioned record: Son Little just released his fourth studio album, Aloha, and it is his most emotional and soul-driven album yet.

“I don’t go out there trying to reinvent the wheel,” Livingston said. “There’s a certain vibe that people who follow me come look for. I think I’ve captured that and deepened it. It’s another color for the palette, and I think this time, I’ve found a lot of (colors). I’m just happy to get it out there and start to move around and share it.”

Son Little will perform with Balto at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. The show is currently listed as sold out. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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