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Carlos Guitarlos, Hell Can Wait, by Carl F Gauze, Ink19, September 2006

I’ll say this for San Francisco — they have a much better class of street musicians than most places. One of the street types that has talent and connections enough to pull himself out of the Geary Square grind is the semi-legendary Carlos Guitarlos, former guitarist for the now-deceased Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs. Carlos went through some bad times, but now has his second solo album out, and it’s a pretty decent collection of self-written blues.

“Got No Time” is a typical number, bouncy, a bit rough on the edges, and showing a suitable disdain for stable relations. “Shake My Blue” feels a bit smoother, and has a Latin feel, and boasts supporting guitar work from David Hidalgo (Los Lobos). It sort of sums up his career, with the great line “All my friends thought I was dead.” Carlos came close, but is still with us, and making the sort of music that makes you want to light a Camel straight while peeling the label off a can of Bud.

There’s good, heartfelt singing here, magically fluid guitar playing, and solid supporting musicianship from Marcy Levy (Shakespear’s Sister) and Gene Taylor (Blasters, Fabulous Thunderbirds). This guy is a gem, and it’s a shame he’s come into some success so late in life. At least we didn’t lose him like so many other blues musicians — broke, alone, and undiscovered, until it doesn’t do them any good.