CD Review: Guitar Shorty

Bare Knuckle (Alligator)

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On the title track of his 2006 album We The People, David "Guitar Shorty" Kearney made a convincing case that, in the right hands, the blues could still speak to the times. Picking up on the street-corner political angst of those days, this Jimi Hendrix mentor has matched his strikingly energetic axe work with old-school blues truth-telling and dropped one of the genre's most potent songs in recent years. Shorty brings a tad more humor to the leadoff track on Bare Knuckle, "Please Mr. President (Lay Some Stimulus on Me)," but the same sense that the blues still has a story to tell. Shorty easily shifts gears from the here-and-now to the tried-and-true. On "Too Hard to Love You" and "True Lies," both cover songs, he has the same pugnacious posture when love goes as sour as the economy. Seasoned along countless road miles logged with the likes of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and others, Shorty's playing brandishes an energy and bite typical of rockers a third his age. In the early '60s, Shorty was the guy that Hendrix would sneak off his Army base to catch. He's still worth catching. — Duane Verh

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