Somers Point beach hosts free show with blues legend Guitar Shorty
Earlier this year, Texas bluesman Guitar Shorty was in downtown Memphis. He was kneeling down backstage at the May 2007 Blues Music Awards, tuning up his electric guitar, ready to go on and play a song. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he heard the announcer call his name. Turns out he had just won Contemporary Blues Album of the Year award for his latest release, We the People.
The soulful and ferocious electric blues album, his second for Alligator Records but just one of many recordings since his 1957 debut single, had been getting rave reviews since its August 2006 release. Shorty, however, had no clue he'd be winning an award that night.
"I didn't have a speech or anything," says Guitar Shorty, born David William Kearney in Houston in 1939. Fast-forward a few months and Guitar Shorty is trekking all over the country (including a stop in Somers Point this Friday night) to give audiences a taste of the masterful show he's perfected over his five decades in music, a span that has included stints in several cities and on various tours with the likes of Ray Charles (while on summer break from high school), B.B. King, and one of his big inspirations, Guitar Slim.
As We the People piercingly points out, Shorty's sound has not dulled with age; rather it's sharper and more passionate than ever. His stage show is still the one to beat, too, with Shorty occasionally breaking out into one of his trademark backflips on stage.
Guitar Shorty checked in recently from the road.
On your current summer tour, you have a lot of dates booked all over the country. How do you get around?
I have my own transportation. I have a van with a big trailer behind it with all of my equipment in it. And that's how I travel. It's got almost 100,000 miles on it.
You take the van coast to coast?
Yeah. I did have a driver, but we had to let him go. [Now] all the guys [in the band] take shifts.
You were born in Texas. Do you think that had an impact on your guitar sound?
It had quite a bit, but I developed a lot in the years moving from one end of the country to the other.
Fifty years ago, Willie Dixon produced your first single. What do you remember about him?
Willie Dixon took me on and I'll never forget that ... [He] was the one who discovered me. They brought me to Chicago, put me in the studio. I had written two songs -- "Irma Lee" and "You Don't Treat Me Right." I couldn't sing the songs in time so he ... shut the studio down [and took me over] to his place, and for three days we worked on those tunes. ... After the session, Willie Dixon kept me in Chicago for a while and then I finally went back to Florida. The next thing I know, I was hearing my 45 on the air. They played it quite a bit.
You hooked up with Ray Charles pretty soon after that. That must have been exciting.
Regular contributors like the Bay-Atlantic Symphony, presenting five programs, and the Atlantic City Ballet with its Nutcracker and Dracula presentations, are back for the new season.
Plus the Viking Cooking School's Hot Summer Line-up, Atlantic City's International Nights concert series and Drew Toonz
Shorty's new album is fantastically badass, sounds like nothing else you’ve ever heard and it’s Shorty’s third in an inspired trilogy of blistering blues-guitar drenched albums for Alligator Records.
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