October 4, 2013
The Kessler Theater
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Kat Sugg
Photos by Zoltan Katona
Family Style Tradition Kept Alive At The Kessler
There is a name that should be synonymous with the term "guitar player." It is a crying shame that the name is not widely known except amongst guitar players and music aficionados. The name is Shuggie Otis. He is the son of the rhythm and blues bandleader Johnny Otis and at age 15, his chops were so developed that Al Kooper had requested him for the second round of the Super Sessions that had previously showcased Cooper with Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills. These details are just facts and do not really do justice to the man and his music. When I heard that Shuggie was coming to town, I marked my calendar because Shuggie is a "bucket list" performance.
Appearing at the Kessler Theater this particular evening, Shuggie Otis took the stage with his band which consisted of three horns, a bass, drums and keyboards, all complimenting the multifaceted musician who is best known for his guitar work, yet actually can play a variety of instruments with little to no effort. Playing a mixture from his recorded works, Shuggie seemingly flowed effortless in and out of solos as we watched in amazement.
Favorite compositions like "Aht Uh Mi Head," "Strawberry Letter 23," "Island Letter" and "Freedom Flight" were included in the set list. The thing about seeing Shuggie in a small, intimate venue like the Kessler, it doesn't really matter if you know every song. You are too busy watching what's going on because the music is enough to keep you at the edge of seat, anticipating what comes next.
I think that Shuggie Otis should not only be required listening for any music collection, but also a prerequisite course for all music majors. There are things to be learned from a man who was self producing his own records long before the trend became popular. I wondered how well he would hold out against the test of time. I suppose that the group of women dancing answered that question. If you get the chance, I urge you to catch at least one performance of Shuggie Otis, if not two for good measure.