In a May 7 Facebook post, legendary blues musician Guitar Shorty wrote: “My touring van has been stolen this morning 3-6am near my house, soon after I got home from a show. A burgundy 2006 Ford van with a white 5×10 trailer. It has ‘Guitar Shorty’ written on the sides of the van. All of my guitars, amps and equipment and much more was there.”
The value of what was stolen was initially $30,000, but has since been increased.
First came a GoFundMe campaign to help underwrite the cost of replacing Shorty’s gear, which was started by bassist Cra Z. Tomes. Next were benefits thrown by the music community; In Long Beach, CA two weeks ago, one such event featured Coco Montoya, Tony Braunagel and Kirk Fletcher showed their support Harvelle’s blues club.
Now, according to Argonaut, there will be another fundraiser on June 30, this time at the Harvelle’s in Santa Monica, featuring the Delgado Brothers, Dennis Jones, and Johnny Maines & the 44’s, among others.
Shorty has played with several prominent musicians, including Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, but what he is mostly known for, outside of his slicing guitar tone, is his mentorship. A brief example: his wife Marcia’s half-brother is Jimi Hendrix, who he introduced to the wah pedal, going as far as to loan him one when he couldn’t yet afford one.
As Bliss Bowen, author of the Argonaut piece noted, “[i]t feels like every month — sometimes every week — there’s another Facebook post from bands asking fans to keep an eye out online and at pawn shops for their missing gear.”
Musicians are all too frequent targets of thieves; the Decemberists, Dinosaur Jr., Grimes, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty, Portugal the Man, the Raveonettes and Sonic Youth all made the news in recent years when their gear was stolen.
It’s a steep loss for anyone, but especially so for independent artists whose careers can be stalled or even ended by the expense of replacing the tools of their trade.
If you live or will be in California next week, show the man some love.