I personally have all of Guitar Shorty's CD releases and enjoy listening to them on a regular basis. However, until I made it to The Bamboo Room's Halloween Party on Saturday night had never gotten the opportunity to see Shorty put on his trademark live show. A W. C. Handy Award winner in 1991 for his recording My Way On The Highway, Guitar Shorty has been compared to better known guitarist and showmen, Buddy Guy and the late Jimi Hendrix (who also happened to be Shorty's former brother-in-law) because of his ability to capture the attention of an audience with his stage show and his fiery guitar.
Backed by bassist Howard Deere, Dan Gerous on drums, Alden Clark on keyboards and guitarist Terry "Big T" Du Rouen; collectively known as The Central Avenue Rhythm & Blues Band, Shorty made maximum use of the ENTIRE Bamboo Room to strut his stuff for the crowd.
The Central Avenue Rhythm & Blues Band opened the evening's performance (sans Shorty) with an up tempo version of "Little Bit" featuring Big T on vocals, displaying some lightning fast (and very clean) guitar. Bassist Howard Deere took over the vocals for excellent covers of "Rainy Night In Georgia" and Jimmy Reed's "My Babe," before Shorty was introduced and played his way from table to table and on to the stage. As he paused at each table, Shorty gave his listeners a little "trick" and a little "treat" with some incredibly creative guitar, delivered in the Guitar Shorty style.
Between Guitar Shorty and Big T, the amazing guitar licks never stopped. Terry Du Rouen, who has played with Etta James and Big Joe Turner, among others, proved himself to be a formidable guitarist worthy of sharing the stage with Shorty. The band performed a number of original tunes from Shorty's repertoire, including several from his latest recording, Roll Over, Baby. The originals were mixed in with several excellent covers of songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan, B. B. King and Jimi Hendrix. Shorty's influences, Hendrix, Albert King and Guitar Slim, revealed themselves at various times during the evening. Shorty ended the first set with a tremendous tribute to Jimi Hendrix, performing "Hey Joe" complete with some free form guitar, feedback and wah-wah pedal in the Hendrix style, before finishing up with a snippet of "The Star Spangled Banner."
Along with his stellar guitar throughout the evening, Shorty jumped and gyrated into positions that most people cannot, played behind his head, with his teeth, his foot, his butt and other body parts that he could legally reveal. One male member of the audience was so inspired (and a bit inebriated) that he climbed onto the stage to assist Shorty with his vocals. He was, of course, courteously invited to return to his seat by the Bamboo Room staff so that Shorty could perform without disruption.
It was a great evening and a fantastic performance by Guitar Shorty and The Central Avenue Rhythm & Blues Band. Shorty is a true crowd pleaser and deserves far more recognition for his showmanship and excellent guitar. Now that I've finally gotten a chance to see him live, I don't plan to wait so long to see my next Guitar Shorty show.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.