James Cotton ranks among the few living legends of the harmonica. He learned from the legendary Sonny Boy Williamson, who took in Cotton as a homeless nine-year-old and taught him to blow with the power of a hurricane and the soul of the blues. Early on he played with Howlin' Wolf, hosted his own radio show, recorded with Sam Phillips at Sun Studios, and finally landed a highly coveted spot in Muddy Waters's band. He stayed with Waters for a dozen years, then established his own band, which soared on the blues-rock wave of the '60s. Cotton has accumulated legions of accolades and awards from Grammys on down over the decades, and at 73 still blows with a passionate spirit rare in performers a fraction of his age. But the ravages of time and throat problems have impaired his once fine vocals. The Minneapolis quartet A Night in the Box will open with its punkish, hard-stomping blend of blues, rock, bluegrass, and gospel. All ages.
Sun., Feb. 8, 7 p.m., 2009