Guitar Shorty

Catch Guitar Shorty before he heads out for a tour of the Northeast to promote his new CD, We the People. Everybody (okay, everybody who follows blues music) knows Shorty was born right here in Houston, Texas, but (sigh!) he went off to Florida the first chance he got. He started playing the guitar before he was five years old. Story is that he was so little, his hands couldn't fit around the neck, so he'd lean it up against a wall and pick it like it was an upright bass. Somewhere along the line, Shorty's hands got big enough, and he started performing as a featured player in his early teens. At 16, he left Florida and went on the road with Ray Charles for a year. He recorded his first single at age 17, hooked up with Guitar Slim, fronted his own band in New Orleans at 18 and then went on the road with Sam Cooke at 19. He worked with T Bone Walker, BB King, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, earning an avid audience that included the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix.

Shorty's career had its ups and downs: He'd earn opening spots for big-name groups but never get the headliner slot himself. He'd record great but unnoticed albums. He had the chops but not the management, so he didn't end up as well-known as some of his cohorts. At age 67, Shorty's nowhere near ready to put down his guitar. He has signed with Alligator Records; he has a busy touring schedule; he released We the People last August; and he snagged a couple of Blues Music Awards nominations.

Don't miss the opportunity to see him in the Big Easy's intimate setting. You'll find out why Hendrix and Guy thought Shorty was among the very best ever.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez