On the Cusp 

Guitar goddess Shelley Doty grows in Berkeley.

Shelley Doty is proof of two very different axioms: You can't take it with you, and You can have it all. The Bay Area-based singer-songwriter and emerging guitar goddess thrives on leaving part of her soul behind every time she touches a stage. The whole point of the songwriting process, she confides, is to "access something that is very true and very personal," so when she plays live, "I've already committed myself to that path." Music, she notes, is an inherently emotional art form; within that context, "you have conversations, you tell stories." It's challenging to dig deep into your psyche, to be sure, but she has found "the things that make me a better musician, make me a better person."

Doty, for years on the cusp of the bubbling-out-of-the-local-scene-
into-serious-national-buzz tip, may not have garnered the kind of high-profile press clippings as current media darlings Joanna Newsom or the Lovemakers, but she's clearly happier -- and busier -- than ever. She continues to front the electric funk-rock outfit the Shelley Doty X-Tet and perform often-acoustic solo shows; she has been gigging live with Shana Morrison and digging the studio as Pyong Threadgill's lead guitarist; and recently she joined the Perps, whose repertoire consists entirely of rock covers of '70s cop show themes from Kojak, Ironsides, The Rookies, S.W.A.T., and Mod Squad. Converting the symphonic arrangements of Elmer Bernstein, Quincy Jones, and Willie Bobo into jaunty rockstrumentals is fun, she says: "It gives you the opportunity to stretch." Speaking of which, Doty is also collaborating with some filmmaker friends on an animated feature, details of which can be found at StrangeFrame.com.

Given that kind of cardiac pace, it's amazing that Doty can find time for an important cause -- but that's just what will happen at Sing Against the Odds, a fund-raiser for the Breast Cancer Fund at Rose Street House of Music this Saturday. Doty performs solo acoustic, and as a trio with Green & Root (Irina Rivkin and Kit Hixon round out the bill). With Doty's music comes a message: "Every little bit of awareness helps" the battle against the disease. Donation $5-$50. ShelleyDoty.com or RoseStreetMusic.com


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