Posted in music | pictures on January 11, 2013

photos by PSquared Photography; words by Bill Pearis

Shuggie Otis @ Highline Ballroom, 1/10/2012
Shuggie Otis

For his first New York show in ages, it was not an auspicious start for Shuggie Otis. Taking the Highline Ballroom stage in a long coat and scarf, his Gibson 335 was silent. A roadie came out, tried mashing power plugs into place to no avail. Shuggie switched to a Strat, was ready to start when the roadie yelled, "I got it working!" The crowd cheered as Shuggie and his band kicked in with the title track from his 1974 opus Inspriation Information and we were blasted back in time.

That album was the last Shuggie Otis, 59, made, though that is about to change on April 16 with re-release of Inspiration Information that will be packaged with a "new" album, Wings of Love, that features unreleased recordings from the last 40 years. We got a few of those new tracks, like the title track, "Trying to Get Close to You" and "Doin' What's Right" which Shuggie said was "Freedom Flight Part 2." The latter was especially good, definitely not throwaway material.

That said, the biggest cheers came from hearing his classic '70s material like "Aht Uh Mi Hed," "Sparkle City," "Island Letter" and, of course, "Strawberry Letter 23." While Shuggie's vocals have dropped a couple octaves over the years, he can still play guitar and nailed that songs's hammered-on outro riff. With much help from an ace backing band (including a piccolo player), this was a most welcome return.

Last night's Highline show was a "Summerstage preview" show that also featured London soul singer Ofei (whose set ended abruptly with a microphone drop halfway through a song), indie rock band People Get Ready, gospel singer Joshua Nelson, and Kool Herc on DJ duty between sets. Shuggie, who plays BB King Blues Club on April 19 (tickets), told our photographer that he's playing Summerstage too.

More pictures from Shuggie's set at Highline, plus the setlist and video of "Inspiration Information," are below.

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Shuggie Otis - "Inspiration Information" @ Highline Ballroom 1/10/2013

SETLIST: Shuggie Otis @ Highline Ballroom, 1/10/2013
Inspiration Information
Tryin' to Get Close to You
Aht Uh Mi Hed
Island Letter
Sparkle City
Miss Pretty
Sweetest Thang
Picture
Wings of Love
Freedom flight part 2: Doin' What's Right
Ice Cold Baby
Strawberry Letter 23

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Comments (10)

how was it?

Posted by Anonymous | January 11, 2013 3:56 PM

Was anyone there? Curious how it went. Heard his recent shows have been train wrecks.

Posted by Anonymous | January 11, 2013 4:00 PM

"Taking the Highline Ballroom stage in a long coat and SCARF..."

Hear that hipsters? Here's your guy!

Posted by Anonymous | January 11, 2013 4:02 PM

Wow, nice job P... P....
That first photo looks like an album cover.

Posted by Anonymous | January 11, 2013 4:12 PM

I wasn't there, but the dude sounded great -- here's a video of one of the tunes (Inspiration Information):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0U6cN88LAoA

Posted by Anonymous | January 12, 2013 9:59 AM

There is only one Shuggie and he is the shiznit!

Posted by Tj | January 14, 2013 6:41 AM

Shuggie is the man! this show looks like a blast! Cant wait for his collection of unheard tracks “Wings of love” to drop. I just stumbled upon this really cool preview for it: http://smarturl.it/SpecialPreview

Posted by Ross CMR | April 3, 2013 4:56 PM

To get more info about his tour and anything else, his website is pretty groovy..

http://smarturl.it/ShuggieOtisOfficial

Posted by Christian | April 11, 2013 5:47 AM

So glad to see such stellar music returning. I just watched this overview of his whole new project http://smarturl.it/Inspiration_Wings and am now keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to see him live someday!

Posted by Rachel | April 13, 2013 7:24 PM

I would of loved to have gone.

Posted by catering winnipeg | June 30, 2013 8:51 PM

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