“So quiet, Edinburgh,” remarked Shuggie Otis as he swished on stage and strapped on his guitar.
Shuggie Otis | Liquid Room, Edinburgh | Rating ****
Perhaps Edinburgh couldn’t quite believe that this cult Californian musician, best known for a couple of albums released more than forty years ago, was actually passing through. Encouraged by ongoing interest in his music, Otis embarked on his own Dylanesque Never Ending Tour a few years ago and has now arrived in a country where his first name (short for “sugar”) has different connotations.
The quiet hush quickly changed to visceral whoops of approval as Otis and his band of cats wasted no time in demonstrating that they amply possessed The Funk with a couple of groovy little numbers Sly Stone would not have kicked off stage. Appropriately, Otis’s group was a family affair with brother Nick on drums and son Eric on bass.
The rest of the set was as diverse as his melting pot career, encompassing a blues funk workout with squalling saxophone, easy listening passages which suited his mellow soul voice, pastoral psychedelic soul with fluttering flute, a traditional low-slung blues kerb crawl and even a dash of soft rock noodling, before he encored with his best tune, the timeless stoned soul of Strawberry Letter 23, covered by The Brothers Johnson back in the day, and brought his eclectic set full circle with a barnstorming funk finish.