|Buddy Guy (Derrick Santini)|
Aug. 7 @ Greek Theatre
I sometimes fantasize that Buddy Guy is related to me. I imagine that one of these Thanksgivings he's going to show up at our door with a grin and one of his custom Fenders asking, "When do we eat?" He would tell us stories about growing up in Louisiana, his years in Chicago and playing with Muddy Waters. Sigh … I just have to be satisfied with going to see him perform every chance I get.
This particular night began with a set from former teen prodigy Jonny Lang. While he's definitely got some impressive guitar chops, what really blew me away was his voice. Lang got down low with the raspiest of them, and his falsetto raised the hairs on the back of my neck. By the time he closed with the title track from his breakout multiplatinum album Lie to Me (1997) – with an acoustic intro – the crowd was on its feet.
Then the first strains of "Goin' Down" filled the venue, and the master took the stage. Guy has been called the bridge between the blues – Chicago pioneers Waters and Howlin' Wolf – and rock 'n' roll – Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page. It always frustrates me when I mention his name and people don't know who he is. Besides being a living legend, he is the consummate showman, a true entertainer.
He professed what a shame it is that the Blues isn't played on the radio anymore, but promised to school the audience in the genre tonight. The crowd just ate it up: Guy had to stop at the first chorus of "Hoochie Coochie Man" because the crowd was too riled up and started chiming in too fast. He said that he had just performed the song in Tokyo, with one difference: "They didn't fuck it up like you just did!" Guy's next lessons were about satisfying a woman ("She's Nineteen Years Old") – complete with a display of his motorboating skills; cheating hearts ("Someone Else Is Steppin' In (Slippin' Out, Slippin' In)"); and getting to keep his shoes on at the airport security checkpoints because of his age ("74 Years Young," with his age updated to 76).
More of the evening's highlights were when Guy paid homage to Albert King, strolling through the audience with his guitar and when he invited two up-and-coming guitar prodigies to the stage. The first was 13-year-old Quinn Sullivan, whose technical skills were amazing. The other, a slightly younger Angeleno by the name of Ray, had the personality and charm to match his stellar guitar playing. Eventually, Guy called Lang back to the stage for a final jam session (of Cream's "Strange Brew") with the two youngsters. He summed up the entire evening by proclaiming that these children prove to him: "The Blues are not dead yet!"