My first visit to Legend's Bar & Grille in almost a year was to see Guitar Shorty in his only appearance near the Twin Cities. Since the St. Cloud venue's Blues Revue Wednesdays are always good, it was certain that the trip northwest of the Twin Cities to see the acrobatic guitarist would be worth it.
Guitar Shorty (a.k.a., David Kearney) is an exceptional guitarist, singer and songwriter who, among other things, was once the brother-in-law of the later guitar legend Jimi Hendrix. As a performer, Guitar Shorty has been dubbed a "living legend" because of his physical performances, complete with flips, flops, playing on his back and other acrobatics, along with his fine guitar work and hookish lyrics.
On Wednesday evening at Legend's, Guitar Shorty's show commenced with five numbers by his capable backing band (sans Shorty) including Henderson Wycliffe (guitar), Howard Deere (bass), Alden Clark (keyboards) and Patrick Caccia (drums). The band opened with a nice cover of James Brown's "Sex Machine" followed by nice versions of several blues and souls classics including "Rainy Night In Georgia" featuring Howard Deere on vocals, Muddy Water's "Hoochie Coochie Man" and ending with the Motown standard, "Tracks Of My Tears."
After the band warmed up the large Wednesday night crowd at Legend's, Guitar Shorty took the stage, strapping on his sunburst G+L guitar. From the moment Shorty hit his first lick on the opening instrumental, you could literally feel the energy in the room shift to a higher level. On every song Shorty played, from the slow blues original, "This Is A Hard Life" to the energetic "They Call Me Guitar Shorty," the guitarist's stinging riffs reverberated through the room. When Shorty left the stage briefly to replace a broken string, the change in sound was like a relaxed sigh after an intense exercise session. When he returned to the stage later, the frenzy resumed.
On "Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed?", Shorty got off of the stage, playing "personally" for members of the audience, including playing part of the guitar solo with his teeth. The song ended with a few licks of Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water." Prior to the start of "This Is A Hard Life," Shorty told a story about leaving is lady at home to "run with the boys," returning later to find that he had been locked out of his apartment in subzero weather without a coat.
The band's extended version of "Hey Joe" was dedicated by Shorty to Jimi Hendrix, including a guitar solo and ending very much in the Hendrix style with some fiery guitar and powerful feedback effects. As he finished his first set, Shorty lightened the mood of the audience by dancing and playing his guitar one-handed, followed by the creation of some interesting guitar sounds as he agitated the strings with his rear end!
As I suspected when I left the Twin Cities for St. Cloud on Wednesday afternoon, my visit to Legend's to see Guitar Shorty was well worth the drive. Hopefully, next time he is in the area, Guitar Shorty will return to Legend's as well as another venue or venues in the Twin Cities Metro Area.
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This review is copyright © 2002 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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