What can be said about Buddy Guy that hasn’t already been said? There’s not much. The man is a living legend. Well respected, admired and one of the last remaining ties to an era of the blues that is cherished by so many. His performance on the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage at Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI was well attended and fans were eager to see him as they started chanting “Buddy” over and over prior to him taking the stage. Eventually the band came out and keyboard player, Marty Sammon made the introduction for everyone to welcome seven time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Mr. Buddy Guy. The crowd clapped and cheered and he flashed that big ol’ smile of his.
With his famous polka dot Fender Stratocaster in hand, he started off with the night with Damn Right I Got The Blues. That night, Buddy, we all had the blues. Buddy even interacted a bit with Marty Sammon, and Buddy’s smile was a mile wide. He continued with Hoochie Coochie Man which turned into an extended opener. At one point, I saw Buddy give rhythm guitarist Ric Jaz the okay and he moved from the back of the stage to the front edge. He had a moment in the spot light and even flipped his guitar around in front of him like magic.
Buddy spoke to the crowd off and on during the night. He mentioned how blues lyrics tell you about your past life and hopefully your future. He commented that he had been watching the weather and that there were looming storms and joked that they were going to have to twist his “expletive” arm to get him off the stage. In case he would have to leave, he decided to play Feels Like Rain much earlier in the set than normal. The crowd also joined in by singing along.
At one point his placed his guitar on a cabinet off to the side of the stage, picked up a drum stick and started playing. He then used a towel to play his guitar. For sure, not something you see every day. He played a bit of Take Me To The River before going into Johnnie Taylor’s Who’s Making Love. Buddy thanked everyone and told them he loved them for coming out to see him in the hot temperatures. He joked that the next song was something this area of the country knew about all too well. Nine Below Zero from his new album The Blues Is Alive and Well sounded great.
He continued with Someone Else Is Steppin’ In (Slippin’ Out, Slippin’ In) and at the end of the song, paused as he could hear music coming from a nearby stage. He said it sounded like they were playing rock ‘n’ roll and maybe he should join in. He also joked that maybe they could hear him too. He played a medley of Blues artists that he looked up to including BB King along with Strange Brew by Cream, and Voodoo Chile by Jimi Hendrix, and even played parts with his teeth and his behind. No seriously, as the band played along, he would slide his guitar back and forth to insert the appropriate tone needed for the song. Buddy Guy is quite the character. At 81, not only can he play anyone under the table, he has a huge sense of humor.
He also talked about how growing up was hard and they didn’t have electricity and told the story of watching is mom brush her hair in a mirror and he told her she was beautiful. She replied that it was only skin deep. He said we were all the same on the inside and said he had been around a while and knew wrong from right. He ended the night with Skin Deep then thanked everyone and said, “I love you.” He threw out some picks, waved to the crowd as the band played the final notes and was gone. Marty Sammon announced his departure from the stage and the night was over. Although the crowd cheered and chanted for more, the hour and a half long history lesson in the blues, according to Buddy Guy, was over.
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