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Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat 

Friday, February 4, at Wilbert's.

It's not as if the state of Texas didn't already have more than its fair share of hotshot blues-rock guitarists. Maybe it's the water. Maybe it's just the overabundance of home-state legends like Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, and those Vaughan kids that spurs the young'uns on.

Whatever the reason, add Jim Suhler to the list of stud Lone Star six-stringers. Like fellow Texan Chris Duarte, Suhler tempers his formidable fretwork with respectable songcrafting. Cutting his teeth on the aforementioned heavyweights as well as Texas grand masters T-Bone Walker and Freddie King, Suhler has been branded "criminally underrated" by the Texas press.

A veteran of regional bar circuits, Suhler first made national noise when George Thorogood brought him on as a show opener. Suhler's simpatico guitar style further netted him his long-standing side gig in Thorogood's band, including appearances on the slide ace's Live in '99 and the 2003 release Ride 'Til I Die. Suhler's own studio résumé includes three discs with his band Monkey Beat and work for documentaries and feature films. A best-of collection, Starvation Box, provides a nice cross section of his work. Slide-guitar burners in the Thorogood mold are mixed with a variety of roots-based originals, and Suhler smokes throughout.

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