It's not the speed of the licks or improvisational prowess that defines the genre's greatest players; it's all about the tone.
Pittman, an Oklahoma native who honed his chops in the Dallas music scene, has followed this formula to the cusp of commercial success, relying on evenly paced, melodic phrasing and colorful, tonal warmth to carve his niche in the blues world.
On Wednesday, July 7, Pittman, who is currently on a national tour, will perform at Hillside Gardens, at 1006 S. Institute.
Ever since the release of Burnin' Up, Pittman's 1997 debut release, critics have cited the influence of both Stevie Ray Vaughn and Lightnin' Hopkins on Pittman's expressive, though economical, playing. But the oft-tread musical terrain of the Texas blues, though providing a noticeable influence on Pittman's seductively languid style, soon lost its appeal. His 2001 release, Full Circle, hinted at a folksier, more personal approach to playing and songwriting, including a cover of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry," amidst a slew of fine original compositions.
Pittman is as versatile as a blues guitarist can get, effortlessly alternating between rhythm and lead, emphasizing his instrument's dynamic moods and exhibiting just enough restraint to keep audiences wanting more. His versatility, while earning him fans in the Dallas/Ft. Worth blues scene, also caught the attention of contemporary blues star Susan Tedeschi, who recently utilized Pittman as a lead guitarist on tour.
With growing notoriety among blues fans, and a new album, entitled Stay, scheduled for release later this year, Pittman's career may be just taking off.
-- Joe Kuzma
Shawn Pittman with Smokin' Joe and The Mighty Burners
Hillside Gardens, 1006 S. Institute
Wednesday, July 7, 7-11 p.m.
$10; advance tickets available at Music Exchange