Back To Reviews page
Shorty - Bare Knuckles
Guitar Shorty’s third release on Alligator Records and I have all three.
I have seen him a number of times and I have enjoyed every outing.
Guitar Shorty was born Davie Kearney in Houston Texas in 1939 but was
raised in Kissimmee Florida. For over 50 years he has been known by
musicians in the know. As a teen in Florida, he played in a local 18
piece band where a club owner dubbed him Guitar Shorty. Early on, he was
a featured member of Ray Charles’ road band and later, Sam Cooks’ road
band. He settled in Los Angeles until recently. With his own bands he
has opened for Guitar Slim, Little Milton, Johnny Copeland, and T-Bone
Walker. He has always been busy but in the last decade Guitar Shorty is
flying above the radar to become known to the general populace and
getting his due.
“I’ve Been Working” was my favorite Guitar Shorty song until now. With
Bare Knuckles, I have multiple favorites. The CD opens with a tongue in
cheek commentary on stimulus monies in “Please Mr. President.” “Slow
Burn,” however, ain’t no tongue in cheek editorial. Back in the day, a
“rap” was spoken word, an aside or soliloquy, to the listener, not some
tuneless rhyme over samples of other peoples’ music. Old School is cool.
Guitar Shorty uses this device to get his message across in “Slow Burn.”
“Opportunities are zero even for a combat hero…When a vet comes back
missing an arm or a leg, did he lose all that for the right to beg?”
Then the refrain is sung, “And you start to give in to the rage within.”
Ironically, slow burn also describes the groove of the music on this
track. The rest of the songs on the CD are on familiar blues themes:
love found, love lost, and in the case of “Temporary Man,” love found
for the short term. “Texas Women” is a tribute to the women of Texas.
I’m from Ohio and I like to think that the song describes me perfectly.
In “Too Late” his thrill is gone. With Guitar Shorty being born in
Texas, raised in Florida, and residing in Los Angeles, a little Latin
flava is bound to show itself from time to time. “Neverland” is one of
those times. “True Love” and “Temporary Man” rock. “Betrayed” is the
blusiest of the set. “Too Hard to Love You” and “Bad Memory are the
Sting and grit are the words that best describe Bare Knuckles: stinging
guitar, gritty vocals and lyrics. Again, old school is cool; old
fashioned is not. Guitar Shorty proves that the blues does not have to
be old fashioned to be true.
Sheralyn Graise graduated from the University of Akron a while back. A
former Social Services professional, she is now pursuing other interests
such as music history, writing, and photography. She has been a member
of the Blues Foundation since 2001.
To submit a review or interview please contact: