Music previews: Dokken unplugged, Guitar Shorty untethered

dokken acoustic

Don Dokken makes a rare South Bay appearance Friday night at Brixton.

Dokken acoustic

Three words that usually don’t go together: Don Dokken unplugged.

The legendary heavy metal icon Don Dokken is performing locally for only the second time in the last 30 years in his native South Bay stomping grounds at Brixton in Redondo Beach for a show he has dubbed his “Two Many Acoustic Jam.” Dokken was a waiter at the Kettle back in the late 1970s when he founded the eponymous band that went on to sell more than 10 million records globally. Dokken still has a house in Manhattan Beach (in addition to a mansion in Beverly Hills, where Kiss’s Gene Simmons is a longtime neighbor) and maintains strong South Bay connections. He did his first club gig here since the early days last year at Brixton and is returning for another on Friday night.

Dokken, in an interview last year, cherished the opportunity to return to his local club roots.

“There’s been a million musicians I’ve met who say I want to be in a band to meet girls, or I want to be in a band because it’s cool,” he said. “But I’m like, ‘I am in a band because I am a musician, and that is what I do.’ I have to play music. That is my drug. When we played Pier 52 or Fleetwoods, I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh yeah, man, in a couple years we are going to be famous.’ It kind of never really entered my head. I thought, ‘Yeah, we’ll do this, make our 200 bucks a night, and it’s fun.’ I never thought we’d end up selling three million records….I mean, we are very lucky. It could have been ‘Breaking the Chains’ and back to the Kettle.”

“We don’t have to do this anymore,” he added. “We are financially set. We just go and play because that is that we do. We do it because it’s awesome.”

Dokken has been mixing things up with acoustic playing for a few years now. It doesn’t mean things won’t get loud, however: Dokken is still Dokken. “We are going to turn it down as much as we can,” he said last year. “But we can only turn it down so much. That is just the way we are.”

Don Dokken headlines w/ Everlove, Blackbrew, Desert Dragon Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. $15 presale; $18 at the door.

Guitar Shorty plays Café Boogaloo Friday night.

Get Shorty

Guitar Shorty returns to Cafe Boogaloo Friday night.

Guitar Shorty has long been known as one of the hardest working men in the business – he’s famed for his on-stage back-flips and an assortment of dance moves and guitar tricks that hearken back to a different era of showmanship. But there is something else he has always done that is indicative of what’s in his heart. Shorty has always liked to jump off the stage and play from the audience, formerly with a 250-foot cord and more recently, wirelessly. He is also one of the few bluesmen who write socially conscious lyrics – his “We the People” was one of the great modern blues songs – something he says goes hand-in-hand with his stage diving.

“I know I can’t do it by myself,” he said in an Easy Reader interview. “We got to do it together. My thing is when we the people stick together, we can move a mountain. I know that’s the truth. So when I go out among people and get them involved with what I’m doing, they can see where I’m comin’ from. And I’ve talked to a lot of them and they say they can feel my pulse when I’m coming through a crowd of people.”

And he may be short, but Shorty never stops growing. He still has a vocal coach, one of a long line of teachers that includes Ray Charles – who taught Shorty to sing even when he had a cold – and Willie Dixon, whose plainspoken eloquence is reflected in Shorty’s lyrical approach.

And his greatest teacher on the guitar was a man his grandmother found for him back in 1946.

“My grandmother thought I was learning so fast she hired a tutor for me, named Mr. Washington,” he remembered. “I called him Wash. He was a dwarf. He was left handed but he played the guitar right handed. And he took me from A to Z on guitar.”

Yes, a dwarf. “Yeah, just a little taller than a midget,” Shorty said. “Oh man, he could wail some guitar.”

Guitar Shorty plays Café Boogaloo Dec. 9 at 9 p.m.

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