When I heard that Guitar Shorty was coming to Las Vegas I knew that I would be there in one way or another. I discovered Guitar Shorty when I re-discovered the Blues and since that day I have thought of him as one of the most under-rated Blues musicians out there. With the thought that I was going to see something special, I headed out to The Railhead, paid the very reasonable cover, and found a table at the front of the stage.
As I was getting settled in the opening act took the stage. Lady J Huston had the daunting task of opening for one of the greats, and she more than lived up to the job at hand. With a selection of originals and covers, Lady J Huston commanded your attention. It's not often that you see a woman that not only has a voice that could stop traffic but can play a trumpet too. One talent or the other would be good, but together they're great! I know that she won somebody over as soon as she started belting out "Sweet Home Chicago", and I do mean belting. Lady J Huston and her very talented band played for quite a while by opening act standards. I was simply blown away by her powerful vocals mixed with trumpeting worthy of any big band. Lady J Huston also combines elements of Gospel and Soul into her vocals, which makes for a well rounded sound. Any woman that can sing heart stopping Blues one minute, and sound soulful enough to bring a tear to your eye has my utmost respect. I know that I wasn't the only one enjoying her sound either as the dance floor has hopping, with the man of the hour even dancing for a bit. After a short break, during which I had the chance to speak to Lady J Huston briefly, Guitar Shorty's backing band took the stage. In the manner that I'm becoming accustomed to at Blues shows, they played three songs to warm up the crowd. Of these, my personal favorite was the cover of "Take Me To The River". This song has been a long time groove for me, and I honestly liked this rendition more than the one made famous during my time by The Talking Heads, although many greats have played it. Finally the moment that I had been waiting all night for arrived, and Guitar Shorty took the stage. To say that I was in awe is most likely quite an understatement. With passion in every note, Guitar Shorty transports you from your surroundings and envelops you in a blanket of sound. With heads nodding to the beats, and toes tapping to the chords, Guitar Shorty had the room in the palm of his talented hands. To understand this show you have to imagine the notes from song to song flowing together, seemingly without a break in the action, although by the time the night was over it was well after one a.m. With songs from some of his releases on Alligator records, and one of the most mind blowing covers I have ever been lucky enough to hear, even people that may not have been fans when they got there were converts by the time they left. Indulge me while I rave on about the above mentioned cover. For those who don't know, Guitar Shorty has family ties to Jimi Hendrix, and that in my humble opinion makes him qualified to play "Hey Joe". To hear this man play one song for well over ten minutes while making his way off the stage, onto the middle of the floor, and eventually to his knees, all without missing a note, was one of the most awe inspiring moments I've ever experienced. Not that you can't feel his passion in every song he played, but it just seemed exceptionally noticeable in that moment. Guitar Shorty was also one of the nicest gentlemen I've talked to in a while. After a set filled with fret work that would put most to shame, Guitar Shorty sat patiently at a table signing autographs, and talking to fans. Signing each CD with the person's name and the simple message of "God Bless" you get a glimpse into the character of this legend. I'm still hoping to one day interview him and delve into all of his influences, but for this night I was content to shake his hand, and thank him for a night I will never forget.