Born in Birmingham, AL, Big Joe Duskin began playing piano in and around the Cincinnati music scene of the mid to late 1930s. At age 17 he quit playing, rather than get beaten by his Baptist Minister father, Perry, for playing the devil’s music. When World War II began, he was drafted. Big Joe served in Europe and returned to Cincinanti, where he worked as a policeman and eventually a mailman.
Big Joe returned to playing music in public in the early 1970s. He cut his first album called “Cincinnati Stomp” in 1977 with Arhoolie Records and went on to appear at blues festivals in the United States and abroad. Big Joe and his band also played Friday nights at Dollar Bill’s Saloon in the mid 1970s. Dollar Bill’s was a popular bar on upper Vine Street near the University of Cincinnati, across the street from Bogart’s, a rock club that is still there today. Every Friday night, Big Joe set up his Fender Rhodes and started his set. Often he let musicians sit in, even if they were of marginal caliber.
In his recording “Miss Me”, Joe gets it moving with his boogie bass line and his booming voice, propelled by drummer Philip Paul and bassist Ed Conley. Both are veterans of the days when King Records’ put Cincinnati on the blues and rhythm ‘n’ blues map, in the 50s and 60s.
Hulsizer, Bill . “Our latest and greatest news.” Big Joe Duskin Music Education Foundation. 24 September 2008. 17 October 2008. http:// bigjoeduskin.org/.