Jeremy Short, the Jackson, Kentucky “original recipe” singer-songwriter and genre-bending guitar blazer, has quickly risen to the top-shelf of must-hear players on both the local and international scene.
First qualifying for the International Blues Challenge, a world-wide competition put on by The Blues Foundation, in 2016 and again in 2017, Short semi-finaled both years he’s been there, ranking him among the top 32 independent blues acts on the planet.
Now he’s going back in 2019, determined to make the third time the charm.
“You can’t compete three years in a row. So, I had to sit out 2018, which I think made me want it even more. I’ve spent the year on the road with my band, Short & Company, and a lot of times when you’re not on stage, and you’re four musicians who look like they’ve lived in a van for the last month — because you have — you can feel the air of disapproval. It’s like Segar said in “Turn The Page” — you can hear the whispers of ‘Why don’t they get a REAL job?’ At least, you do in your head, if not from their mouths.”
“Getting to be back in that atmosphere again, surrounded by musicians from anywhere you can think of — Japan, France, Iran, Spain, you name it — the energy is palpable. It’s incredibly inspiring.”
So inspiring, that one of the songs from his latest record was written about a mishap he and his guitar had the night before his second year of competition:
I took her down to Memphis,
across the streets of Beale
She played, I sang,
and before we quit
She swung and chipped my grill
“It was at Club Handy, this tiny place where the walls are just big garage doors with windows. There’s so many people trying to fit in that they roll up all the doors, and let the music and people just spill out into the street.”
“I was sitting in with the house band, had just finished playing, and went to stand up. Somehow, I smacked myself in the face with my guitar, and when I went to open my mouth, a chunk of my front tooth fell onto the stage floor. Not the thing you want to happen the night before a big gig.”
Celebrating it’s 35th annual, the International Blues Challenge runs from Jan 22-26th, in search of those ready to perform on the international stage, and it’s seen its fair share of to-be famous performers, including Zac Harmon, Albert Cummings, and Susan Tedeschi.
“No competition will ever be all it takes for someone to “make it”. It’s about what you do with it from there. Sure, if you win you get several big festival spots, and some really cool prizes, but nothing that says, ‘You’ll never have to work for it again’. No one can give you that.”
“But when I step on that stage, I’m not holding anything back. I’m shooting straight for the front doors of the Orpheum Theatre and picturing myself standing front and center. I’m going to put everything I’ve got into it – minus the half tooth that’s still probably on the floor of Club Handy.”
Listen to Short’s solo EP, Songs From The Chicken Shack:
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