The Soulful Southern Gothic Queen of the California Desert, 0r that’s the moniker I bestow her anyway. I must start by saying that, yes, I did fall a bit in love with the aura of this rock goddess 14-years my senior, but only the type of crush a boy develops 14-years my junior. I’ve met many musicians in my day, and not all of them, even some very famous ones, are the real deal. Shelby is. Her soul-dripping voice full to the brim of authentically raw emotion, her songwriting uniquely her own with an awareness of the modern hipster and the country mega-star lover, with a reverent nod to the ghosts of Stax legends from an era bygone that influenced and paved her way.
I lugged in my case of lighting gear, bag of light stands, backdrops and accessories into a small North Hollywood rehearsal studio that looked more like a 100-year-old ship than famed studio space. I met the band, Shelby’s assistant, and awaited her arrival to decide on an appropriate spot for me to setup. As she swaggered in, she smiled that lazy rock star smile, hugging and greeting warmly all those she knew. Then we met, and I asked where I should setup that would be out of the way. She smiled, and replied, ‘Sweetie, you’re just gonna have to get me in action… Fuck them, just be an artist,’ so I put away the cases and bags of gear, and simply documented what I saw, and enjoyed the music. My theory was reaffirmed, that there are few things in this life as beautiful as witnessing music played and perfected with no crowd, and no real fulfillment except the connection and acknowledgement between musicians as they hit their perfect stride and unity, and the knowing shared gaze at that very moment which tells and emotes more than words ever could.
A big thanks to Shelby, her manager, assistant, sound engineer and band, for allowing me into that special place. Read more words by Steve Dougherty on the WSJ website here.