Some people walk the talk. Some people talk the walk. Very few people walk and walk and walk and keep on walking.
Buddy Guy graced the Montreal Jazz Festival with his presence Saturday night. In a festival that has witnessed the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder – Buddy’s appearance and subsequent reception of the B.B. King Award for outstanding contribution to The Blues was icing on a fortieth anniversary cake.
Buddy Guy was in a field pickin’ cotton when he was fifteen years old. During Obama’s regime as President of The Unites States of America, Buddy performed at the White House. For Guy – the largest indication of how far he has come in this world. For the music world and specifically The Blues world; Buddy had already reached the musical White House.
With the recent passings of B. B. King and James Cotton (along with many Blues artists), Buddy Guy is the last Blues man standing. Buddy is a survivor and a witness to Blues history. Buddy has played with every Blues guy who is talked about in the same breath as Jesus. Buddy Guy is now in that category and giving Jesus a run for his money.
With the utmost respect to opening act Colin James and his band members, the difference between their show and Buddy’s was immense. James was presented on stage and Guy was ‘a presence’ on stage. The voice, the power of his guitar and the showmanship was as legendary as Guy himself. Some people have that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ and are born to lead the pack. Elvis, Sinatra, Jagger, Mercury and Prince all had or have it and in The Blues world; Guy is currently the King. When Buddy joins The Stones for a song or two live – he steals the show. How many people dwarf The Stones on stage?
At Place des Arts last night, Guy was in fine eighty – two year old form. At Place des Arts last night, Buddy and his band put on a clinic in sound, in theatrics and old fashioned get what you pay for showmanship. You cannot teach and old dog new tricks and in this day and age, when the new dogs cater to the short span of today’s music, the old dog was comforting as he lay at the punter’s feet.
The’ old hound’ brought along some friends as well. The Damn Right Blues Band backed up Buddy as a full blown 1960’s Blues club band. In the days of Blues haunts in Chicago such as Theresa’s and Muddy Waters’ Checkerboard Lounge, The Damn Right Blues band was the norm. Every player in all The Blues clubs was an elite performer. They were the forefathers of music today. The Damn Right Blues Band – relaying their ancestors messages loudly, purely and honestly. After all, real Blues music is as honest as you get.
Johnnie Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love” added a sing along portion to the show. One of Guy’s strong points is audience interaction and Guy furthered the bond with his rendition of John Hiatt’s Looks Like Rain.The audience was tutored by Guy into singing the chorus and it was angelic. Men were singing along yet eerily – it was only the female voices which rose to the heavens. Guy himself seem to pick up on that vibe and he sincerely gave his grading asking three or four times for them to do it again. It was a special moment.
Ric “Jazz’ Hall, Buddy’s gunslinger in crime on guitar was (next to Buddy) the best guitar player in Montreal last night. A headliner on his own, Ric displayed more than once how a guitar should sound while playing not only The Blues but Rock n Roll. Spacing and tone are far more important than technique and flash. Ric will be, one day – held in the same esteem that Mr. Guy is now.
Marty Sammon knows the feel of music. Marty Sammon well aware of how and what is needed in a Blues band. On keys, Sammon pushes and pulls the rhythm to lows and highs with power and solitude. Allowing Guy time to breathe physically and musically. The chemistry between the two as beautiful as Peanut Butter and Jelly. As tight as jeans on a runway model. As smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Two things happen at every Buddy Guy show. One – the master leaves his desk and ventures into the audience and two; the hairs on the back of people’s necks stand on end when Buddy opens his mouth and sings. Both occurred last night yet the softness in which Guy also sang was equally as outstanding. His control and the feel of The Blues was impressive. At eighty- two years of age, Guy’s stamina may be the inspiration behind Mick Jagger’s strength.
Buddy Guy. Walking and walking and walking and walking and …
Photos Benoit Rousseau