Damn Right, Buddy Guy Still Got The Blues

81-year-old Chicago blues legend shined at New York’s B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

Boy, had I been full of anticipation of this show, and Wednesday night it finally happened – Buddy Guy at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in the heart of New York City. It was just as amazing if not even better as the first time I had seen the Chicago blues legend at New Jersey’s PNC Bank Arts Center in July 2016. Undoubtedly, one factor was the more intimate club setting where I was seated much closer to the stage. And then, of course, there was the man himself, who at age 81 still delivers the blues with a Jimi Hendrix-like intensity.

From the very beginning with the excellent opener Damn Right, I Got The Blues, Guy left no doubt why he had come to the Big Apple. As I usually do, I didn’t take any videos with my smart phone. Instead, I’m relying on YouTube clips to recreate some of the show’s highlights with the caveat that the footage was captured at different gigs. Written by Guy, Damn Right, I Got The Blues is the title track of his seventh studio album from 1991. Here’s a nice clip of the blues rocker from 2016.

Guy followed up his set’s fiery start with a 12-minute-plus version of the classic I’m A Hoochie Coochie Man combined with She’s Nineteen Years Old. Both tunes were recorded by Muddy Waters, who became a major influence on Guy after he had moved from his native Louisiana to the windy city of Chicago in 1957. The following clip from a concert earlier this month nicely illustrates the onstage persona of Guy who likes to tease his audience by cursing like a sailor. It also showcases his killer piano player Marty Sammon.

Another highlight of the set was Five Long Years, which Guy also recorded for his Damn Right, I Got The Blues album. The tune was written and first recorded by blues pianist Eddie Boyd, who scored a no. 1 hit with it on the Billboard R&B Chart in 1952. Guy’s rendition featured more hilarious cursing and a crazy solo by his guitarist Ric Jaz Hall, who mostly played rhythm but proved he can shred as well, if given the opportunity. The following clip from July 2017 nicely illustrates all of that. Check out Hall’s solo starting at about 2:25 minutes into the tune.

Yet another great moment occurred when Guy performed Skin Deep, the title track of his 14th studio album from 2008. He was joined on stage by his long-time producer Tom Hambridge who co-wrote the beautiful ballad with Guy and Gary Nicholson. I just loved Guy’s soulful singing in that tune.

Apart from singing and playing great blues tracks like the above, Guy also credited white British blues artists, especially his friend Eric Clapton, with introducing black blues artists to broader, white audiences. He also threw in a bit of Hendrix. Here’s a cool clip of a medley including Voodoo Chile and Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love.

A few words about Guy’s excellent backing musicians, The Damn Right Blues Band. In addition to Sammon and Hall, the members include Orlando Wright (bass) and Tim Awesome Austin (drums). All of these artists are veterans of the Chicago blues scene and have been touring with Guy for more than a decade.

Also, the show had an excellent opening act, The Ben Miller Band. I had never heard of these guys before, who have been around since 2005. They play a dynamite mix of blues, country and bluegrass, using homemade instruments and other unusual equipment. Among others, this includes a one-string washtub bass played by Scott Leeper who is also the band’s drummer. In addition to a standard microphone, lead vocalist and guitarist Ben Miller uses a microphone from an old telephone that creates a unique distorted sound. Rachel Ammons (violin, cello, guitar) and Bob Lewis (bass, guitar, percussion) are also part of the current line-up.

I was very intrigued by this band and plan to check them out more closely. One of the tunes they played last night was a cool cover of Black Betty. Probably the best known version of this traditional African-American work song was released in 1977 by American one-hit rock band Ram Jam.

Finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the sad fact that Wednesday night’s concert was one of the final shows at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. After 18 years, the place is closing down at the end of the month. Guy will return to headline the final show on April 29. A note “To Our Valued Patrons” stated, “As a result of escalating rent, we are being forced to close our doors at the end of April” – what a shame! It was added the club is in the process to select a new location in Manhattan, so at least there appears to be a silver lining here.

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube

8 thoughts on “Damn Right, Buddy Guy Still Got The Blues”

    1. Have you ever seen him? The man is just unbelievable!

      His current tour is pretty extensive and includes gigs in OH. He’s scheduled to play the Rose Music Center at the Heights in Huber Heights on Jul 11 and Centennial Terrace in Toledo on Jul 15.

      Like

  1. Sehr guter Beitrag, der in klaren Vorahnungen darauf hinweist, dass Buddy Guy tatsächlich aus biologischen Gründen nicht mehr lange spielen wird, dass aber in Erkenntnis dieser Endlichkeit bei ihm jeder Ton seine Bedeutung und seinen richtigen Platz einnimmt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Danke! Klar, daß Buddy Guys Tage leider unweigerlich gezählt sind. Allerdings fand ich, daß sein Auftreten und die Dynamik seines Spiels nach wie vor einfach umwerfend waren. Ich habe daher die Hoffnung, daß das Ende seiner Auftritte noch etwas auf sich warten läßt.

      Ehrlich gesagt wäre ich froh darüber, wenn ich mit 81 Jahren überhaupt noch eine Gitarre halten geschweige denn spielen könnte. Weiterhin muß man erst einmal 81 dieses Alter erreichen!

      Ich denke das Spielen und seine positive Einstellung halten Guy jung. Möglicherweise habe ich wohl doch die falsche Karriere gewählt!😆

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Buddy puts on a show, that’s for sure. I’d love to see him at his Chicago club but that hasn’t happened. Too bad that club is closing down. Hard to find clubs that play any blues. I don’t remember the last time House of Blues in Boston actually had a blues band play there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Man, I tell you, it’s almost unreal. As for B.B. King Blues Club shutting down after 18 years, it’s a shame. There is just too much fucking greed in the concert business!

      BTW, do you know the Ben Miller Band? I was really intrigued and definitely want to further explore them.

      Like

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