Teddy Morgan and the Pistolas

Thursday, Nov. 18; Off Broadway

OK, you haven't heard of Teddy Morgan. His story: A Minneapolis kid struck by Bob Dylan and Lightnin' Hopkins before he was old enough to drive, Morgan quit high school and got an on-and-off gig with one of the Midwest's more venerable blues groups, the Lamont Cranston Band, which led him to work with blues stompers James Harman, Lynwood Slim and R.J. Mischo, which brought him to the attention of Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds -- Morgan's style bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the T-Birds -- and which finally led him to Austin, where the kid's become something of a force in the Texas blues scene.

His blues: Morgan has cut three records. The first, 1994's Ridin' in Style showed a cocksure 23-year-old grappling with the snarling roadhouse rhythms of Jimmy Reed and Jimmie Vaughan; the second, '96's Louisiana Rain, widened Morgan's reach, burning through raw Stax-Volt soul, Chuck Berry, Robert Lockwood and Jimmie Rodgers, the fuel that ignited rock & roll in the first place. Small surprise, then, that Bo Ramsey produced Morgan's brand-new Lost Love and Highways (Hightone). Morgan's guitar work has become darker, denser, faster -- the opener, "Bullet from a Gun," sounds like a Billy Zoom-driven X reunion -- and his voice, all instinct and grime, has become a last-chance wail -- forget that he's all of 28 years old. Jon Penner and Chris Hunter, his rhythm section, not only rock, they move, heedless as a cyclone sweeping over a swamp. The faithful who wouldn't miss regular stopovers by Bugs Henderson, the Bel Airs and Duke Tumatoe shouldn't miss Morgan: This could turn out to be the most unexpectedly thrilling roots-rock show of the year.

 
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