Last night we went to see our favorite musician, legendy bluesman and now, WC Handy Award Winner for 2007 Contemporary Blues Album of the Year, Guitar Shorty! If you read my blog, you know that we are not only fans, but friends, of this incredible artist, who also happens to be a really nice man. Shorty has not only influenced other blues guitarists like Jimi Hendrix (they were brothers-in-law) but he has been entertaining appreciative audiences since 1957 with the most incredible guitar playing on the planet!
Shorty is also known for onstage antics. While I have never seen him do one of his famous backflips, he shows no sign of slowing down. Last night, for example, he seemed super-charged (perhaps it was the knowledge that it was his last show for a few weeks). He still plays the guitar with various body parts, he jumps up and down, he is known for leaving the stage, walking around in the audience to treat astonished people to a bit of up-close-and-personal guitar playing, and he likes to go outside and play on the street, while his band waits patiently on stage for him to come back in! We’ve seen Shorty walk outside and play his guitar in a snowstorm, a rainstorm, and last night, he went outside and played, posing for photos on the sidewalk with two very surprised, ice-cream eating, girls!
We traveled a couple of hours to New Hope, PA, see Shorty at the bar/restaurant, Havana. Sadly, so many of the blues clubs nearby have been turned into other types of venues. When Shorty’s within a few hours of us, we’ll travel. We’ve even flown to California to see Shorty (at Harvelle’s).
This was Shorty’s last concert before he and his band (now called “We the People”–not to be confused with an 60’s Garage Band with the same name) go home for a little while, and get some much needed R&R off the road.
Their relaxation won’t last for long, though. Shorty spilled the beans that they’re working on a DVD, and other exciting projects. Ageless Shorty was absolutely smoking-hot last night! He has a new band (and a new road manager who apparently keeps him to a tight schedule). The drummer is an affable “MC,” introducing Shorty and interacting with the crowd. And I particularly like the addition (well, he’s been with Shorty about 6 months now) of the keyboard player, Matt, who adds more of a Texas sound to Shorty’s rockin blues. As an ensemble, these guys are not only professional, but smooth and comfortable with one another, creating a new style for some of Shorty’s classics, such as “I Wonder Who (Has Been Sleeping in my Bed)” and “Hey Joe” (which Shorty did in double-time last night still playing every single ote, to keep to Havana’s schedule).
Before Shorty’s first song of the night, “We the People” (the title track of his now award-winning album), Shorty did something a bit uncharacteristic: he shared with the audience his dismay about being gouged at the gas pump, especially out West in the desert, and in California. He suggested we “ride a bicycle a few days a week” instead of taking our cars, so that the powers-that-be “feel it.” Then he sang “We the People,” a powerful, rock/blues song with verses that could have been penned by the likes of an anguished Bruce Sprinsteen, opining about the struggle of the “common man.”
Guitar Shorty and We The People will be back on the road in a few weeks. You can visit http://www.guitarshorty.org and http://www.guitarshorty.com to find out more about Shorty. Here’s the schedule of tour dates as they stand today for June and July. You’re lucky if Shorty is coming to your town! Now, people and clubs are now vying for Guitar Shorty, so there are certain going to be additions:
Sat 06/09/07 Harlingen, TX Blues On The Hill
Fri 06/15/07 Tucson, AZ Old Town Artisans
Sat 06/16/07 Phoenix, AZ Celebrity Theatre
Fri 06/22/07 Chicago, IL Buddy Guy’s Legends
Sat 06/23/07 Minneapolis, MN Famous Dave’s
Mon 06/25/07 Winnipeg, MB Jazz Winnipeg Festival
Tue 06/26/07 Winnipeg, MB Jazz Winnipeg Festival
Thu 06/28/07 Woodruff, WI The Longshot
Fri 06/29/07 Berwyn, IL FitzGerald’s
Sat 06/30/07 Cleveland, OH Wilbert’s Food & Music
Sat 07/07/07 San Antonio, TX Sam’s Burger Joint
Fri 07/13/07 Arcadia, CA Arcadia Blues Club
Sun 07/15/07 Eureka, CA Blues By The Bay
Thu 07/19/07 Omaha, NE Murphy’s Lounge
Fri 07/20/07 Des Moines, IA Blues On Grand
Sat 07/21/07 Dodgeville, WI Bluesfest
Fri 07/27/07 Buffalo, NY Lafayette Tap Room
Sat 07/28/07 Owego, NY Hickory Smoked Blues Festival
Tue 07/31/07 Piermont, NY Turning Point