Saturday, 22 June 2024

CyberSoulMan: Experiencing Buddy Guy live and in concert

Buddy Guy during an amazing performance at Cache Creek Casino & Resort in Brooks, Calif., on Saturday, April 24, 2010. Photo by Jamie Overton/Cache Creek Casino & Resort.





As far as I know, Buddy Guy is the last Chess King standing. I refer of course to the glory days of the Blues wax kingdom that Phil and Leonard Chess built.


The brothers recorded scores of predominately Blues artists at their “Kingdom” until they sold it the GRT Corporation in 1969. Many of us are familiar with the peers that Buddy Guy cut his guitar teeth with; Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton and Sonny Boy Williamson.


During a pause in the music at his concert at Cache Creek Casino and Resort on Saturday night, Mr. Guy seemed to start down the historical Blues memory lane, by starting to state the obvious, that he listened to Howlin’ Wolf and the afore mentioned group of Blues Masters as he learned his craft.


I wanted him to regale us with stories of not only the Masters, but some of the journeymen Bluesmakers, the few hit wonders that vanished into the footnotes of human obscurity, the annals of which most of humanity is destined.


My want was not to be realized. Mr. Guy instead diverted his dialogue into who he continues to listen to and gave skilled instrumental snippets of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom Boom,” Eric Clapton’s “Strange Brew,” Keith Richard of the Rolling Stone’s “Miss You” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.” For kingly measure he threw in a little of B.B. King’s Rock Me Baby.


Incredibly, Mr. Guy channeled each snippet seamlessly and effortlessly. He captured John Lee Hooker right down to the bone, including Hooker’s unique vocal delivery as well as Keith Richard’s rhythmic, head banging, behind the beat aural protocol.


Guy demonstrated Eric Clapton’s clean, spatial delivery and tone, then contrasted it against Hendrix’s massive inner and outer space frontal lobe assault attack.


I believe it was the best guitar technique demonstration I’ve ever seen. Of course at the outset he did say, “I’m gonna play so funky tonight, you’ll be able to smell it!”


Buddy’s set list included gems like “Nobody Understands Me But My Guitar” (two from the Muddy Waters songbook), “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “She’s Nineteen Years Old,” (Willie Dixon’s) “I Just Wanna Make Love To You,” (two title tracks from his own CDs) “Feels Like Rain” and “Skin Deep.”


He brought the house to its feet with Skin Deep’s poignant lyrics about how we all bleed the same.


During one intense dueling exchange between Buddy and his second guitarist Ric Hall, Buddy broke a string. No worries. Within seconds Buddy’s guitar tech supplied him with another axe and the duel continued unabated until the crowd’s collective jaws were draggin’ the floor.


Buddy also demonstrated his ability to play guitar with his teeth, a technique he may have been doing before Hendrix, as well as with a drumstick. He left the stage with his guitar and soloed around the room much to the crowd’s delight both Albert King and O.V. Wright’s versions of “Drowning On Dry Land.” It was all smoke, no mirrors.


Buddy Guy was born on July 30, 1936, in Lettworth, Louisiana. At this stage in his soon to be 74 year old life, he is still at the top of his game.


If you’ve never experienced the live Buddy Guy experience, I strongly urge you to do so. There are not many first generation links left to the Chicago Blues via the Mississippi Delta.


Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts!


T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. 


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