King Blues Club New York, NY - 3/23/05
legend Buddy Guy, who was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame, gave an awe-inspiring performance in front of a packed
house at the B.B. King Blues Club in New York City on Wednesday
evening, March 23, 2005.
Dressed in a casual red, white, and blue shirt resembling the American
flag, blue denim jeans, white sneakers, and a funky Humphrey Bogart-style
hat, the 69-year-old Guy proved without a doubt that he is one of
the greatest blues guitarists of all time. Eric Clapton has been
quoted as saying that Buddy Guy is the greatest living guitarist
around today, and after seeing Mr. Guy's performance, I would have
to agree with him wholeheartedly.
Backed by a solid band made up of seasoned musicians (bass, drums,
guitar, sax, electric piano), Guy kicked off the set with a solid
blues rocker that featured extended piano and sax solos, then mellowed
things down with bluesy renditions of classics like Fever, Change
In The Weather, and It Feels Like Rain, the latter made popular
by the great Aaron Neville.
When Mr. Guy sings the blues, it's the real deal. He knows about
hardship, tough times, struggling to make ends meet, and his facial
expressions and body gestures tell a story all their own. He dredges
deep down into his soul and sings with heartfelt conviction and
has this uncanny way of conveying his deep-rooted feelings to his
audience. He has the ability to make this amazing connection because
through his squeals and tight-fisted gyrations, we feel the pain,
and we feel what he's feeling because we've all been there too.
This man is not only a master guitar player, but also a remarkable
vocalist and showman.
a tribute to the late Jimi Hendrix, Guy played a blistering version
of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), during which he exquisitely mimicked
Hendrix's performance style by playing his guitar upside down, over
his head and even with his teeth, all without missing a single beat.
He even took a drumstick and played a perfect melody using it as
a bow. He could do it all and with astounding musical precision.
No, he didn't set his guitar on fire like Hendrix used to do, but
he did set the place ablaze with electricity from this exhilarating
Not one to hog the spotlight, Mr. Guy would occasionally step to
the side of the stage and give his incredibly gifted band members
the opportunity to shine, and each one was given the chance to showcase
their respective musical skills. I was especially impressed by his
keyboard player, whose hands were flying across those eighty-eight's
like I've never seen before. My apologies for not knowing his name,
but his keyboard skills were astonishing. He and Mr. Guy were trading
licks during one number in an amazing display of musical virtuosity.
Guy would play a lick on the guitar and the keyboardist would replicate
it exactly on piano. There is no question that these gentlemen are
musicians of the highest order.
In tribute to some of the early masters, Guy treated the audience
to an outstanding medley of classic numbers like I'm Your Hoochie
Coochie Man, Boom Boom, and I Can't Quit You Baby, followed by a
version of Cream's Strange Brew in tribute to his old friend Eric
performance was outstanding from beginning to end, but the highlight
was definitely when Mr. Guy, in the middle of a lengthy blues jam,
left the stage and started meandering his way through the standing-room-only
crowd, singing and playing the entire time. He covered the length
of the club, from one end to the other, squeezing his way through
the crowd, even stopping occasionally to sign a few autographs.
He continued to sing and play a blistering guitar solo during his
journey through this exhilarated sea of humanity, then returned
to the stage to finish the number. What more can I say? Standing
Mr. Guy and his band provided an amazing display of musical excellence
combined with raw emotion and a feeling of exhuberance that was
felt by every member of his audience. He touched everyone in the
room with his enormous talent, his musical virtuosity, his soulfulness
and his connection to the human spirit. Hey, it's the blues baby,
and it just doesn't get any better than this.