The event organized by NJBS (New Jersey Blues Society) and Crossroads on February 23, 2023, was a blues-infused night featuring two renowned guitarists, Junior Watson and Dean Shot. Junior Watson, formerly of the Mighty Flyers and Canned Heat, represented the West Coast, while Dean Shot, from the Fabulous Thunderbirds, represented the East Coast. They were accompanied by Steve Kirsty on bass and Jason Devlin on drums. The show opened with a performance by The Outcrops, a band consisting of Cassidy Rain on vocals and guitar, Bryan Schroeder on guitar, Qaasim Munoz on bass, and Max Adler on drums.
Dean Shot acknowledged the audience's support for live music and praised them for attending the event. He mentioned that the venue should have been packed to honor the true legend, Junior Watson. The night was unforgettable, not only because of the music but also due to the deep connection and camaraderie displayed between the two guitarists. Junior Watson's storytelling and banter with Dean added to the overall experience. His humorous anecdotes about forgetting song titles and lyrics were relatable considering his extensive recording career. Junior Watson appeared to be thoroughly enjoying himself on the Crossroads stage, while Dean Shot perfectly complemented him with his masterful guitar work, trading blazing solos throughout the night. Steve Kristy on bass and Jason Devlin on drums provided a solid foundation for the performance.
Videos and photos of the event were shared on various social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, allowing those who couldn't attend to get a glimpse of the remarkable night. The experience of witnessing two masterful guitarists on stage together, sharing their friendship and joy, was something that shouldn't be missed. The song "Bald Head" became a memorable moment when Junior Watson removed his hat to reveal his own bald head, while Dean encouraged the energetic crowd to join in chanting the chorus. The night was filled with excitement, fun, and incredible guitar work, creating an earthquake of musical brilliance as East Coast and West Coast influences converged.
Special thanks were given to The Outcrops, who kicked off the evening with an exciting set of original songs from their acclaimed releases. The band has been making a name for themselves and performing extensively throughout New Jersey, from Cape May to Sussex County. Their energetic performances have earned them praise from music writer Bobby Olivier of the Star Ledger, who listed them as one of the top bands to watch out for. The Outcrops' road warrior mentality and exceptional music make them a must-see act before they achieve national acclaim.
Gratitude was expressed to everyone involved in hosting the event at Crossroads, and a special mention was made for Lee Frankel, who provided the perfect venue for the extraordinary night of music.
Below are two sets of photo collages.
Some photos of Junior Watson and Dean Shot from the event:
Some photos of The Outcrops from the event:
Press release for Junior Watson and Dean Shot:
With nearly forty years of experience, Junior Watson has reached cult status. Junior has done what all great artists have done: melting diverse styles to create a style all his own. With influences as diverse as Tiny Grimes, Oscar Moore, Bill Jennings, Rene Hall, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Jimmy Rogers, Eddie Taylor, Guitar Slim, Earl Hooker and others he has truly created one of the most unique and original guitar voices to come along in years. Besides his mastery of blues and swing he often adds his own cartoon-like twist to everything he plays. You’ll never know what he will do and when asked he doesn’t know himself. His energy and playing gives you a feeling of reckless abandonment. As he was once quoted “like a train off the tracks”.
His artist resume is as large as it is impressive. A founding member of The Mighty Flyers he stayed with the band for ten years. He then left to join Canned Heat for ten years. He then toured for a while with LA-based harmonica player/vocalist Lynwood Slim. All along the way he has backed up and recorded with the who’s-who of the blues. His list of musical endeavors include backing up and recording with Big Mama Thorton, George Smith, Jimmy Rogers, Shakey Jake, Luther Tucker, Charlie Musselwhite, Kim Wilson, William Clark and many more.
While Junior Watson has appeared on hundreds of recordings, his solo releases are few. The latest release, Nothin’ To It But To Do It shows Watson’s command of the instrument – either when soloing or playing rhythm. His voice shines on the recording and, as with his previous Long Overdue recording Nothin’ To It But To Do It features other vocalists as well – in this case the greats Alabama Mike and Lisa Leuschner Andersen. Also featured on the recording are saxophone great Sax Gordon along with organ master and Little Village Foundation founder Jim Pugh. Watson features his first boss Gary Smith, the godfather of SF Bay Area blues harmonica. The rhythm section consists of longtime bass player Kedar Roy and drummer Andrew Gutterman.
Vocal and guitar stylist Dean Shot is and has been for many years one of the East Coast’s Premiere authentic blues artists. Born and raised in West Orange, NJ. Dean’s mother played piano around the house, and performed in summer stock plays as a youth. The influence of his mother singing and playing piano must have stuck with Dean as an infant, he was always drawn to music. In his teens, Dean took up guitar and began pursuing all the blues music he could find to listen to.
Dean spent his formative years playing alongside blues legend Hubert Sumlin for six years. Dean took Hubert's word to heart when Hubert asked him to carry the music forward and give it to others. In recent years, Dean has toured with blues royalty such as Junior Watson and Mark Hummel, and is currently a member of The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Dean’s resume is long and speaks to his dedication to the real blues and roots. The list of artists he has toured and/or performed with is substantial and significant: Hubert Sumlin, Kim Wilson, Junior Watson, Ronnie Earl, Big Jay McNeely, Big Jack Johnson, Mark Hummel, Danny Russo, Lurrie Bell, Otis Rush, David Maxwell, Greg Piccolo, Paul Oscher, Steve Guyger, JB Lawson, Doug James, Floyd Phillips, Lonnie Youngblood, Sax Gordon, Studebaker John, Eddie Shaw, Carl Weathersby, Bob Margolin, Jesse Morrison, Cecil Brooks III, Christian McBride, John Primer, Pat Tandy and many more.