Conrad Oberg / The Iridium / New York, NY

Conrad Oberg
Conrad Oberg, Photo by Ken Titus

One of the emerging young guitar slinger set, Conrad Oberg already has an impressive arsenal of chops at his formidable fingertips. Whether barreling along a rockabilly tune, reaching back to the blues or channeling the golden age of surf rockers, Oberg jams in more notes per bar than a Jerry Lee Lewis glissando. Quality he’s got, but he also has quantity in spades.

Blind since birth and only 20 now, Oberg is still finding his way, but he’s got a good head start on his trip to fame. Backed by a crackerjack band, especially John Lumpkin on drums, Oberg hit his stride about a half-hour into his set. Ripping through Cream, Stevie Ray Vaughan and a few blues tunes like “Black Betty,” I got the feeling he was buckling down to his task, and his vocals were excellent.

Well into his set, we were surprised to see Oberg sit at the piano and play with talent and confidence. He accompanied himself on the Doors’ “L.A. Woman,” and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Life by the Drop,” both of which showcased his technical ability, but here again, less would have been more. In this writer’s opinion, rock is a lot like lovemaking: You can deliver it hard, fast and loud, but if you don’t ever bring it down, you’re going to miss the most important stuff.

Oberg finished with the obligatory guitar-behind-the-head, guitar-played-with-your-teeth and guitar-played-with-the-mic-stand every young axe slinger uses to impress the Tiffanys at his high school. We’ll keep watching him, because when Oberg puts away his childish toys—and he will—he’s going to be a real threat.

– Suzanne Cadgène

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