An Afternoon of Marvelous Blues Guitar
A couple of months ago, I was introduced to the terrific blues guitar of Shun Ng, a young master with an unusual style of fingerpicking. At that show, he appeared with three other young guitar masters, but this was the first time I saw him in a solo show (Shun is currently touring with Magic Dick of J. Geils Band fame, but Dick was not feeling well and was not able to appear as Shun’s guest).
Shun started his set with ‘Stormy Monday’ which segued into ‘Sweet Home Chicago’; as with every other cover he performed that day, he made these easily-recognizable songs his own. Later in the set, he played an incredible version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’. It was completely different from the original, yet I think everyone in the room knew what he was playing after the first few bars.
Lest you think he plays only covers, he told us he is working on a new album of all original music and played a couple of those songs. One is ‘How Little You Know’ which Shun said is styled after the old jazz ballads that are so beloved. I was quite amazed at his ability to write a song that sounded like it could have been written in the 1940s. Another song he played is ‘Follow the Goose Bumps’ which is titled after something he was told by Quincy Jones; to paraphrase, when asked how you can tell that a song you’re writing is good, Quincy said that if it gives you goose bumps, all you have to do is follow them.
Shun played a gorgeous guitar that night, made of a wood called monkeypod. Made from scrap wood of 100+ year old trees, it has a fairly bright sound that made his playing sound even more impressive.
Shun ended the set with a medley of songs from some of his favorite songwriters: ‘Come Together’ by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, ‘Superstitious’ by Stevie Wonder, and ‘Billie Jean’ by Michael Jackson. Again, he took those well-known songs and made them his own.
For his encore, he played Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The first time I saw him, he played it for the first time before a live audience and he was amazing. At this show, Shun was no less amazing. Apparently it is a very difficult song to perform live; even Queen did not perform it in its entirety live. Shun does not try to channel Freddie Mercury, which would be an impossible feat. He sings it his way, and does it so well.
Shun is on his way up the music ladder; he is extremely talented and should have a long career ahead of him.