Bluesdays Guitar Shorty does what Jimi Hendrix could not
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. andamp;#8212; Stevie Ray Vaughan was influenced by Albert King. Chuck Berry copied T-Bone Walker. And Jimi Hendrixandamp;#8217;s style was rooted in the style of blues guitarists Elmore James and Buddy Guy.Each, of course, became successful creating their own sound, but their influences are easily identified.Guitar Shorty, who at the age of at least 72, is a surviving patriarch of blues and rock guitar, and Guitar Slim was the germ of his showmanship. andamp;#8220;Guitar Slim, my show comes off his show; I just expanded it,andamp;#8221; Guitar Shorty said.Before the days of wireless electric guitars, Guitar Slim used to walk through the audience with a 250-foot cord. Sometimes he would ride atop the shoulders of a nightclub bouncer.andamp;#8220;Heandamp;#8217;d roll on the dirty floor, put the guitar behind his head and be playing it and scoot across the floor like a worm,andamp;#8221; Guitar Shorty said. andamp;#8220;And when he got up, heandamp;#8217;d be pitch black from all the dirt that was on the stage. I said if he can do that, I can do flips. Thatandamp;#8217;s were the flips came from. Every once in a while I still do it.andamp;#8221;Guitar Shorty said he doesnandamp;#8217;t mind that Tuesdayandamp;#8217;s show at the Village at Squaw Valley is on concrete. He said he usually does his flips on concrete.Hendrix, who died in 1970, was Guitar Shortyandamp;#8217;s daughterandamp;#8217;s uncle.Guitar Shortyandamp;#8217;s call and response style with his instrument is a similar style to Hendrixandamp;#8217;s song andamp;#8220;Purple Haze.andamp;#8221;andamp;#8220;Jimi saw me turning flips and he tried it and got hurt and broke his guitar,andamp;#8221; Guitar Shorty said. andamp;#8220;He told me you can have those damn flips, Iandamp;#8217;m not going to do that no more. Thatandamp;#8217;s when he started lighting the guitar.andamp;#8221;Hendrix also played guitar behind his head.andamp;#8220;He got that from me, and me and T-Bone used to do that,andamp;#8221; said Guitar Shorty, who credits Berryandamp;#8217;s sped up T-Bone Walker licks as the pioneering rock andamp;#8217;nandamp;#8217; roll sound.andamp;#8220;T-Bone was unappreciated, Albert King, too,andamp;#8221; he said. andamp;#8220;He didnandamp;#8217;t get what he should have got. That Albert King was a helluva guitar player and now you donandamp;#8217;t hear anybody talk about him. All you ever hear about now is Stevie Ray, Stevie Ray, Stevie Ray.andamp;#8221;Guitar Shorty travels with three guitars: a pair of Gandamp;L Legacy models and a Comanche he calls andamp;#8220;Good Enough,andamp;#8221; andamp;#8220;Redandamp;#8221; and andamp;#8220;Sparkles,andamp;#8221; respectivelyGood Enough is never checked at an airport.andamp;#8220;That thing has a fat tone and if I want a razor-edge cut I can get it,andamp;#8221; he said. andamp;#8220;And if I want it to be nice and smooth and soft, I can get that.andamp;#8221;Guitar Shorty has had a run of successful albums in the 2000s, including the latest, andamp;#8220;Bare Knuckleandamp;#8221; on Alligator Records. He said he has enough material for a new record, and he played six of the tracks on the telephone during an interview with Lake Tahoe Action.One song,andamp;#8220;Smokey the Ghost,andamp;#8221; is a true story that happened to Shorty who was driving home to Houston after a show in Arlington, Texas. He said he saw a ghost sitting in the passenger seat. Moments later his van collided with a hit-and-run driver.andamp;#8220;He was trying to warn me about whatandamp;#8217;s up ahead,andamp;#8221; Guitar Shorty said. andamp;#8220;No one was hurt but it woke everybody up.andamp;#8221;Guitar Shortyandamp;#8217;s psychedelic guitar sound sets the mood for andamp;#8220;Smokey the Ghost,andamp;#8221; but donandamp;#8217;t expect to hear the full version Tuesday.andamp;#8220;Sometimes I give the audience a little preview of my latest album thatandamp;#8217;s coming out andamp;#8212; I donandamp;#8217;t sing the lyrics,andamp;#8221; he said.Guitar Shorty has tours later this year in South America and Europe and next year is slated to play in Russia. A Tahoe-Truckee blues afficionado who omits this Bluesdays appearance from his or her concert itinerary would commit an egregiously neglectful act of inertia.
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