How can words describe it?
It’s not everyday a living legend takes the stage. A man who learned his guitar – playing craft, not by playing, by listening to the masters of the Blues themselves.
Think of J.K Rowling sitting next to John Steinbeck or Ernest Hemingway and learning how to write. That is exactly what Buddy Guy lived. In lieu of these famous authors, Guy sat down with legends such as Muddy Waters, T- Bone Walker and B.B. King. Friday night at the Metropolis in Montreal, the seventy- six year old passed on his lessons to a sold – out crowd.
Following a jaw – dropping set by Guy’s prodigal child; fourteen year old Quinn Sullivan, Buddy took the stage and made sure everyone knew what was on his mind .. ‘ Damn Right I Got the Blues!’
That opening song, introduced Guy to a 2013 audience in fine style. The very same tune which placed him on the map to stardom in 1991. Fame may have come late in a career that saw Guy play on Muddy Water’s ‘Live at the Copacabana’ in 1967 yet once it arrived – there has been no turning back.
Never mind the licks, the precision finger – picking’ which has established Guy as one of the finest guitar players ever, it is when Buddy opens his mouth to sing – that’s when a spectator is aware, a special moment is present. The power that escapes his mouth like a circus performer shot from a cannon, is so overwhelming – everyone’s little hairs on the back of their necks stand on guard for Buddy. It is that profound.
Hoochie Coochie Man, the Willie Dixon – penned classic song made famous by Muddy Waters, allowed Guy the looseness to pay homage to his elders and teachers. His voice resonating around the club like a boomerang flying around the globe – returning to the home of the Blues each time. Guy’s fingers, older compared to a guitarist like Keith Richards, a man who is seven years Guy’s junior. Buddy’s digits remain. Stalled at the age of twenty.
‘I Just Want Make Love to You’, signaled a torch which was lit by Muddy Waters via Willie Dixon in 1954. A fire which sounds good when the Rolling Stones play it. However as the sultry chords and sexy lyrics echoed through the venue, the iconic song hit closer to home through Buddy Guy. The real apprentice of the Blues’ greats shining through with a smile and a wink. History heard. History played. History never sounded so good …
“I’ve been all around the world, everywhere is home/drank wine with Kings and the Rolling Stones/I got a few scars from the battles I won, ’cause I’m 74 years young”
Those words, autobiographical at the time they were written, summed up the mood of the crowd. Everyone aware of Guy’s ‘legendary status. A musician, if he / she or they survive, reaches different levels as time goes by. The inevitable rise and peak, the fall, the rise and the exit or staying power. At one point – regardless of hits or ‘chart topper’, a plateau of God – like status is obtained and held until death. Guy is at that point in his life and career. He is the man along with B.B. King as the last men standing from an age which saw the Blues and Gospel, the Godfathers of so many genres, give birth. Guy’s guitar playing on ’74 years young’? Hendrix is smiling somewhere.
Damn right I got the Blues …
- The Blues had a Baby and they named it ‘Buddy Guy’ (keenemusic.wordpress.com)
- Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, Friday, April 12th, 2013 Reviewed by Rock NYC (guitarshoptv.com)
- Eric Clapton Introduces Star Line-Up To His Fourth Crossroads Guitar Festival (Photos) (contactmusic.com)
- Jimmy Dawkins dies, leaves Chicago blues legacy (csmonitor.com)