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What would you say about an artist who sounds like: Stevie Wonder, Geroge Benson, Sly Stone, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Mike Olefield, Grover Washington Jr Billy Preston, Funkadelic, Quincy Jones, Meters, Elton John and BB King ALL AT THE SAME TIME? Well, let me tell you a little bit about him! Normally I don't like to write about artists who are obscure, because i don't like to discuss music that people have never heard or are unlikely to ever hear, I mean.....what's the point? But please indulge me this one time? Many times since the creation of Urban Sounds, people have asked me who my favorite FUNK artist is and I have always refused to answer the question, today I'll answer that question! Because I am about to tell you all about a truly GREAT FUNK artist! Shuggie Otis put out two fantastic albums during the 1970's · "Freedom Flight" - 1971 · "Inspiration Information" - 1974 When the album "Inspiration Information" came out in 1974, I became aware of it as a result of hearing the single "Inspiration Information" on radio station WAMO in Pittsburgh. I liked the catch/bouncy beat and the positive groove of the "Stevie Wonderish" song.. I immediately went out and purchased the album and took it back to my dormitory room to listen to it. This album completely BLEW me away as I listened to it in the "black light and incense filled room". This album is difficult to describe except to say that it sounded like a combination of ALL of the artists I mentioned earlier and then some. You see, this music is impossible to place into a category it's: Blues + Jazz+ Rock n Roll+Soul All blended together, held together by a "glue" that turns out to be a message that sticks with me to this day! It' got both lyrics and a beat that can only make one think of good times and a positive future, filled with hope and free from despair. Needless to say, I listened to the album over and over again till I couldn't stay awake any longer. The next day, I played this album for a few of my friends and they also had their minds BLOWN AWAY by it. Soon the album became a favorite among the crowd I hung around with at that time . See not only was the music GREAT, but everyone was totally amazed because not only did Shuggie Otis play EVERY instrument on the album, write EVERY song, but he also was just NINETEEN years old at the time! In other words he was some kind of musical prodigy! A few months later I saw the album "Freedom Flight" in the record store and picked up on it as well. This album was just as FUNKY as "Inspiration Information, but a bit less experimental. Ever hear the song "Strawberry Letter 23" - Brothers Johnson? That song was a remake of the original, written by Shuggie Otis, which appears on the album "Freedom Flight". Soon after I had purchased "Freedom Flight" , I listened to it (in that very same "black light and incense filled room"), that I had listened to "Inspiration Information". This music was certainly powerful and the messages contained were striking, just by looking at the album titles you can see what the message is. Shuggie Otis abruptly "retired" from the music business a few years later at the age of 22 years old. I "lost" my copies of BOTH albums years ago. To this day whenever I go to a record store, the first thing that i do is go to the "O" section and look to see if either one of these two albums has ever been reissued on Compact Disc. Of course I have never found either one. Most likely Shuggie Otis music will probably NEVER be reissued on CD. He wasn't a big hitmaker and I don't suppose there is much of a demand for his stuff . Shuggie Otis Found at Joe's Pub in NYC Just got back from seeing the great Shuggie Otis perform live at the [re-]release party for his classic 1974 album, "Inspiration Information" (Luaka Bop), at Joe's Pub in NYC. Although there had been some concern among the staff at his label as recently as last week as to whether Shuggie would in fact perform tonight, he pulled it off and it was incredible! Following on the heels of Tuesday night's fine performance of Shuggie's "Strawberry Letter 23" on Conan O'Brien (he will perform on David Letterman's show on Friday night), Shuggie took the stage promptly at 9 p.m. (after a brief introduction by Luaka Bop honcho David Byrne) for a one-hour set of blues and soul classics and a couple of original tunes from the "Inspiration" CD. Backed by guitarist Jimmy Vivino from the Late Night band (AKA the "Max Weinberg 7"), younger brother Nicky on drums, and a bassist and keyboard player, Shuggie began his set with Freddie King's classic blues instrumental, "Hideaway." This was followed by another 12-bar blues, at which point I began to worry that we might not get to hear any of Shuggie's own brilliant compositions. This fear was quickly allayed by the next number, a SMOKING version of the aforementioned "Strawberry Letter 23." After a somewhat oblique introduction during which Shuggie attempted to explain the background of the song, they launched into the tune (complete with the famous glockenspiel part played on the keyboard), Shuggie and Jimmy Vivino playing the same guitar lead simultaneously, recreating Shuggie's studio overdubs. This song was the highlight of the set, and had the audience up on their feet and cheering. "Strawberry Letter 23," probably Shuggie's most famous composition, by virtue of the Brothers Johnson's 1977 hit version, is included on the "Inspiration Information" CD, even though it originally appeared on Shuggie's first album, 1971's "Freedom Flight." Three other songs from that album are also included on the CD, including the mind-blowing title track, a 13-minute guitar opus a la Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain." It should be noted, with all the rumors about Shuggie's health and low profile for the past 25 years, that he both looks and sounds just great. We spoke for a couple of minutes, and he appeared fit and content in a fashionable dark grey suit, and could easily pass for quite a bit younger than his 48 years. And his guitar playing was as astounding and fluid as ever. This guy's just gearing up for his second career - watch out! The next number after "Strawberry" was a rousing version of Sly's "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Again)," the band occasionally sounding a bit under-rehearsed, but their enthusiasm more than compensating for the rough edges. At several points during the set Shuggie told the audience how happy and grateful he was to be back performing this material, and it was obvious he really WAS pleased to be there, 27 years after "Inspiration Information" was first released. With so few happy endings in the music biz, it was nice to witness one unfolding right in front of our eyes. After another blues, "I Just Wanna Make Love To You," the band left the stage for a moment, before Shuggie and Nicky returned for a duet version of "Ice Cold Daydream," the only song they performed from the original "Inspiration" album. It was a fine ending to a great night. When "Inspiration Information" was originally released by Epic in 1974, it quickly slipped off the radar. Shuggie was eventually dropped from the label, and his subsequent disillusionment with record company politics led to a 25-year absence from the spotlight, although he continued to perform with his father, legendary bandleader Johnny Otis. But in recent years "Inspiration Information" has been cited by many influential DJ's and musicians as a "lost classic," leading David Byrne to reissue it in March to universal acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone, Vibe, Spin, and countless others. I guess sometimes an artist just has to wait for the world to catch up with his genius. At least in this case we are fortunate that Shuggie is alive and well and enjoying the belated and much-deserved attention. I only hope that the exposure being afforded Shuggie now as a result of the album's reissue, and the media blitz surrounding it, enables him to both revive his career where he left off in 1974, and to reach an audience far wider than the one which initially greeted this brilliant and singular work. Special thanks to Bob Davis of Soul Patrol ( for turning me on to Shuggie and "Inspiration Information," Jonathan Rudnick and Maurice Bernstein of Giant Step for a beautiful job promoting the record and the party, and Jeff Kaye of Luaka Bop for the guest list hookup and gracious response to my queries about Shuggie. Finally thanks to David Byrne for reissuing this gem, and of course to Shuggie Otis for creating it and being so patient! Way to go Shuggie! Peace,

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Tour Dates:
2017-05-21 (Ended)SHUGGIE OTISThe Fleece
Bristol Bristol, City of , United Kingdom
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2017-05-22 (Ended)SHUGGIE OTISRuby Lounge
Manchester Manchester , United Kingdom
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2017-05-23 (Ended)SHUGGIE OTISThe Junction
Cambridge Gloucestershire , United Kingdom
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2017-05-25 (Ended)Shuggie OtisSouthend Chinnerys
, United Kingdom
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2017-05-26 (Ended)SHUGGIE OTISConcorde 2
Brighton Brighton and Hove , United Kingdom
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