Tue, October 8, 2013
Doors: 7:00 PM / Show: 8:00 PM
Irony is a part of life. Though the music business may at times have nothing to do with “real” life, irony is a part of the biz. Just ask singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Shuggie Otis. Shuggie Otis, for those not familiar with him through David Byrne’s heroic disinterment of his 1974 album, Inspiration Information or through his authorship of the wonderful Strawberry Letter 23 – is the son of legendary R ‘n’ B bandleader Johnny Otis. A musical prodigy he was playing with his father by the time he was 13 and from the word go displayed an uncanny mastery of the blues guitar.
He wrote “Strawberry Letter 23,” a gold single for the Brothers Johnson that went to number one R&B and number five pop in spring 1977. George Johnson was dating one of Otis’ cousins who gave him a copy of Otis’ 1971 Epic LP, Freedom Flight. Immediately, Johnson liked “Ice Cold Daydream” and “Strawberry Letter 23.” The duo recommended it to their producer, Quincy Jones, and recorded a cover version that sticks pretty close to Otis’ original version of “Strawberry Letter 23.” By the time “Strawberry Letter 23” was a million-seller, Otis had been dropped from Epic three years earlier. The 24-year-old guitar virtuoso was sure he would get a new record deal. Ironically, the record executives would be impressed that he wrote a million-selling song, but they weren’t interested in anything else he’d done. Disillusioned, Otis dropped out of the music business before returning to it in the late ‘80s, playing with his father, Johnny Otis’ band. Later the axiom “good things come to those who wait” took effect. Spurred by sales and critical kudos of reissues of his 1974 Epic LP, Inspiration Information, from Sony Music Special Projects and David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label, Otis performed “Strawberry Letter 23” on May 2001 appearances on Conan O’Brien and David Letterman.
Though in recent years he has chosen to remain out of the spotlight, he continues to be revered through musical circles, as evidenced by his 2009 performance with Mos Def in LA (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdalGmtuiYg). Feb 2013 see the re-release of Inspiration Information via Sony distribution, complete as a double album package with a set of sought after unreleased masters. He will perform his first live dates outside America in over 20 years. Booking now for November 2012 and onwards…
Hailing from Tupelo, Mississippi; John Murry’s solo debut album ‘The Graceless Age’ is imbued with the ghosts of the Southern states and the personal demons that have haunted him throughout his life. He has described himself as more absorbed in the world of literature than in the day-to-day concerns of the modern world, and for good reason: he’s second cousin to William Faulkner and has spent much time with his second cousin’s work.
Murry says, “I am, in truth, named for his grandfather, my great-great-grandfather. My granddaddy, Charles ‘Bo’ Murry, is buried about ten feet from him in Oxford, MS, and was his pallbearer. My plot is paid for and is adjacent to it.”
Murry first appeared on record in collaboration with cult Memphis folk singer Bob Frank. Their album of murder ballad duets – “World Without End” – was released in 2006 to broad critical acclaim; David Fricke (Rolling Stone) describing it as “all bullets, blades and guilt without end”.
‘The Graceless Age’ was produced in San Francisco by Murry and Tim Mooney of American Music Club, who sadly passed away in 2012 and finished with additional production with Kevin Cubbins in Memphis , TN. Murry moved to California in 2003; things went awry after a few years and his songs deal with the harsh truths of love, life and loss. His battle with addiction is memorably highlighted in the epic “Little Coloured Balloons”, recalling an overdose where he was clinically dead for several minutes.
Throughout these songs in the key of heartbreak, there is nonetheless a strong and abiding sense of salvation and reconciliation. ‘The Graceless Age’ is an album that unflinchingly exposes John Murry’s dark pains and loss through songs that are translucent vessels of beauty and light.
Following a limited UK release in 2012 and an AUS release on Spunk Records in Oct 2012, ‘The Graceless Age’ will be released on Evangeline Recording Co in the US on April 2, 2013. US release will be followed by release on Rubyworks in Europe and beyond as a special deluxe edition 2CD set with 6 previously unreleased bonus tracks, lyric booklet and embossed double digipak sleeve. Street date Monday 6th May 2013.
- Tuesday, October 8, 2013 8:00 PM