By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Pasadena Weekly Executive Editor

Blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Guitar Shorty has experience most musicians would dream of.

Born David William Kearney 89 years ago, Guitar Shorty fronted his own band that featured special guests like T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner and Little Richard. At 19, he started playing with Sam Cooke.

“I worked with BB King, too,” said Guitar Shorty, who plays Matt Denny’s Ale House on Saturday, July 10. “When I worked with Ray Charles, he took me under his wing and said, ‘Look son, I want you to play a song for me.’ I said, ‘I would if I knew it.’”

Charles wanted Guitar Shorty to play “Sweet Little Angel.”

For Guitar Shorty, music has been a lifelong pursuit. He started playing as a child, on his grandmother’s recommendation.

“I was in my grandmother’s house, and I was playing the piano,” he said. “I was playing boogie woogie and it sounded good. She said to do it again.”

Then, she made an interesting comment: “You’re going to have a guitar,” he recalled. “That’s where I see you—playing the guitar.”

She called his mother and informed her of the plans.

“You have a son here who has a lot of talent,” he recalled his grandmother saying. “This boy will be something.”

The man who went on to influence Jimi Hendrix explained his mother just “laughed it off.” Still, Guitar Shorty received a Gene Autry acoustic guitar and started working with a music teacher. At 89, he’s one of blues’ most revered players.

The Northridge resident hopes for a 2020 tour were dashed due to COVID-19, but he did spend the time writing a few songs.

“I have a lot of records they ain’t ever heard,” said Guitar Shorty about his fans and music executives. “I have to find some way to get them out there. I work hard and that’s all I can do.”


Guitar Shorty

WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday, July 10

WHERE: Matt Denny’s Ale House, 145 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia

COST: Text 323-377-5291 about tickets

INFO: 626-462-0250 or mattdennys.com for restaurant information;

alligator.com/artists/Guitar-Shorty