With the Ponderosa Stomp still clearly visible in our musical rearview mirrors, it’s exciting to announce that another reclusive artist who all but disappeared for nearly forty years is playing his first show in New Orleans.
Shuggie Otis, like many of the artists who have been booked at the Stomp over the years, coulda been somebody. In a strange turn of events, he’s a guitarist and singer whose career has a strong resemblance to that of the lost legend Rodriguez who played at Tipitina’s recently.
Shuggie’s father was the great Johnny Otis, an R&B legend who wore numerous hats including promoter, discoverer of talent (Hank Ballard, Jackie Wilson, Big Mama Thornton) and bandleader.
Though unknown to mainstream audiences despite having a minor hit in the 1960s, his work has always been an inspiration to modern-day artists like Prince as well as numerous rappers including OutKast who have sampled his music. Reportedly, “Strawberry Letter 23″ is the eighteenth most sampled song of all time. The clip lists many of the songs that use parts of his tune.
Reviews I have read since his comeback began have been mixed, mostly complaining about his lack of stage presence and weak vocals. But his guitar-playing, which was once compared to the skills of Jimi Hendrix, remains intact.
This show is shrouded in mystery since so few people ever heard his music back in the day, and even fewer have seen him recently. But with a well-regarded reissue and a tour that brought him to Ashville, North Carolina, Nashville, and Atlanta on consecutive nights this past week, he should be in fine form playing in front of the enthusiastic crowds that are a hallmark of New Orleans audiences.