Concert Review – Buddy Guy

We don’t see Buddy Guy every time he comes to town. But he is literally the last of a certain generation (he just turned 81) of bluesmen and women and so, we see him when we can. (I’ll save his history for when I inevitably do a series about him.)

We were supposed to see him at an outside venue which we prefer because then you can just chill and enjoy the show and the waning summer night air. But rain threatened so it moved to a nearby auditorium. This turned out to be fortuitous for reasons I’ll get to.

Buddy had four pieces behind him – keyboard, drums, bass, and guitar. If you’ve never seen him, he comes out screaming. First tune is as much his signature tune as anything else and it’s called “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues.”

Spotify link

I wish I could tell you that Buddy keeps that pace up throughout the show. But he’s always been a showman and he likes to tell stories. I found the other night that maybe there was a little too much storytelling and a little less music than I’d like. (My guess is that at 81 he’s giving himself a little onstage rest. Who am I to argue?)

He also kept teasing with things like John Lee Hooker or BB King tunes. He’d play a bit then abandon the song. The crowd in attendance were definitely Buddy Guy fans. But that guy who goes to a show to loudly prove his blues knowledge was also there.

Every time Buddy would try to sing a line of an old blues song, this guy would shout out the response. I guess for Buddy it was like a comedian trying to tell a joke with some dude stepping on his punch line. Because he eventually got annoyed and told the guy to shut the fuck up. (Show biz equivalent of “get off my lawn” which he’s also earned.)

And while Buddy didn’t get preachy about it, he did talk about all the hate that’s going around and wondered why we need it. (I was at the Boston anti-KKK rally today asking that same damn question.) He brought out his producer to sing a song they co-wrote called “Skin Deep.” I think it speaks for itself. Here he is with Derek Trucks:

Spotify link

And so here comes the best part. Later in the show, Buddy did a song called “Someone Else is Steppin’ In (Slippin’ Out, Slippin’ In).” Instead of doing it from the stage, he walked into the audience and went up the aisle on the other side of the auditorium away from us.

And then, playing all the while, he made his way to the other side and came down our aisle which, by some miracle, I was seated on. As Buddy approached I snapped a bunch of pictures. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me to get a video. Fortunately, my wife had the presence of mind to record it.

Buddy shows up at about :43 (white cap.) At about 1:22, he is standing right the fuck next to me. (Turns out Buddy’s a little shorter than me, I’m about 5’10”.) That’s my blue shirt and hands you see just afterward.

What was I doing? Well, resisting the temptation to reach out and touch his guitar. Really I was just fucking grinning and taking it all in, man. This is something you don’t see every day like Halley’s comet or – wait for it- a total solar eclipse.

If you want to hear the whole song, here it is:

I came home this morning
Oh what a shock
When I found out my key
No longer fit my lock

Oh baby
You just go right back out there where you’ve been
‘Cause while you were slippin’ out
Oh someone else was slippin’ in

Spotify link

One last thing. We’ve seen Buddy several times and were present maybe 6 or 7 years ago when he introduced his protege Quinn Sullivan. Quinn is now 18 or so and always joins Buddy, especially in his home state of Massachusetts.

Quinn looks like a kid and does not have Buddy’s stage presence nor do you really feel like he’s lived the blues. But he’s a hell of a player. He did “Little Wing,” clearly more influenced by Eric and Duane’s version than Jimi’s. A kid to watch.

If you love the blues, do yourself a favor and see Buddy when he comes to town. He is the only member of the ’50’s Chicago generation still playing (to my knowledge) and he learned from Muddy Waters and all those guys. This is not nothing. This is the blues.

20 thoughts on “Concert Review – Buddy Guy

  1. Finally I get to this take. A good feeling to see guys like buddy still doing it. Like you said, not too many around anymore. Something about seeing an 81 year old still cranking it up on his guitar. Man is that cool. CB still likes it loud and so does Buddy. Nice clip, i got a kick out of it. You look good on camera Doc.


    1. And Buddy’s touring the world. Look at the energy that dude’s got. I hope I’m like that when I’m in my Eighties. As to me, I’d like to say the ladies can’t resist but they can and frequently do. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like he’s not quite the wild man he once was but, hey, the man was an original innovator. If anyone deserves to be able to kick back a bit, it’s that guy, Guy.


    1. Yeah. He’s a hell of an entertainer. Agreed about the energy level but loved the ballroom blitz. As I told JerseyDreaming, I’ll be happy if at 81 I have enough energy to get off the couch, go to the fridge, get a beer and return.


  3. I went to a concert last night and at least half a dozen of the audience were wearing Buddy Guy t shirts. I know it wasn’t just a coincidence, because down here in Southern AZ he still has a devout following.

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  4. I lived in Chicago in ’83 and got to see him at his Checkerboard Lounge club on the South Side. He wasn’t playing, though, he was hanging out by the bar, checking out the crowd. Then saw him a few years later, playing, in Columbus, Ohio. Even then, too many stories and too much rambling. But I agree, he’s a great one, and one of the last of his blues generation.


    1. I keep hoping to see him in his Chicago club. But I believe he only does a stint there in January and the stars never seem to line up. I used to do business there and I was way north in Mundelein and Gurnee. Travel to Chicago doable but a pain in the neck.


  5. I saw Buddy Guy last year, together with Jeff Beck – ‘holy shit,’ is all I can say!

    If I’m still able to even hold an electric guitar when I’m 80 years old, I’ll do a happy dance!

    The only small disappointment was that Guy didn’t play “Whiskey, Beer & Wine,” which is from his most recent studio album “Born to Play the Guitar.” This tune has such a cool Hendrix-esque sound – again, it’s kind of mind-boggling an 80-year-old can still play this kind of stuff.

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    1. Yeah, as long as these guys’ minds and fingers are intact, they can go on and on and on. Lots of times they lose their fluidity. I saw Johnny Winter long before he died and even then he was missing notes. I saw Les Paul once too and while still great, he didn’t have the same reckless abandon. So yeah, let’s dig these guys while we can. And the good news is they are on record forever.

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  6. Saw at Ft. Lauderdale – HUGE disappointment! Sound was horrendously loud – drowned out the ability to take in the blues. Buddy’s playing was phrenetic – some great licks but a lot of raucous noise. I’ve seen him before -even have his guitar instructional video. Was enamored with the ability to shout profanities – big deal in this age of the internet. This was NOT the blues.


    1. Now that’s a bummer. Sounds like he’s at the hit-or-miss stage of his career. Reminds me of the last time I saw B.B. Awful.


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