By Val Tapia, BADS Contributing Writer
Photo courtesy of Christine Camacho
What can I say about the great Buddy Guy that already hasn’t been said before? In short order, Guy has literally shared stages with generations of guitarists he blazed a trail for over the course of six decades.
Where do I begin? Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, and the late Jeff Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughan, respectively, have all cited Guy as a major influence. Pretty much every known British Invasion act of the 1960s took a page or two out of Guy’s playbook as well.
More importantly, Guy hasn’t forgotten the artists who came before him either like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and John Lee Hooker. When you witness Buddy Guy onstage, you truly are in the presence of an American musical treasure.
To that point, Guy doesn’t want his audience to ever forget “the blues” as he proudly displayed on Fri. Sept. 8 at Celebrity Theatre. The near-sellout crowd of about 2500 got a charge out of seeing the 87-years-young Guy wanting to conclude an incredible 60+ year career… on his own terms.
And yes, not only is he still playing well, his razor-sharp sense-of-humor is still on full display. No matter how “inappropriate” Guy’s in-between song banter comes off to some fans in attendance, I think most understood it wasn’t intended to be mean-spirited.
Kicking off the 75-minute, 13-song set (I think?) with Damn Right, I Got The Blues, Guy and his exceptional band had the crowd grinning from ear-to-ear. Next up was his take on the Muddy Waters classic She’s 19 Years Old.
By and large, Guy tends to play other artists’ material more than his own— rightly or wrongly. Still, he certainly puts his trademark stamp on the songs he didn’t write like Willie Dixon’s I Just Wanna Make Love To You. Another live staple over the years in Guy’s set is Johnny Taylor’s Cheaper To Keep Her that always gets a few gasps from the audience— for understandable reasons. But that’s another topic I suppose.
Only one song was played from Guy’s latest album (off 2022’s The Blues Don’t Lie), I Let My Guitar Do The Talking, co-written with longtime Guy drummer Tom Hambridge.
There’s no doubt that one is witnessing guitar royalty when Buddy Guy is on stage. However, it would be ideal if he played more of his own songs.
One of the highlights of Guy’s live show is when he goes out into the audience during an extended “jam”. This night, unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It could be for many reasons of course. But it was noticed by several fans that attended.
Overall, I give Buddy Guy’s Damn Right Farewell tour three out of five stars. Personally, I can’t say I’m into the jam thing that much. Yes, I appreciate the talent behind it, however, the song is most important. In my opinion, a song should never take a back seat to “instrumental prowess”, for lack of a better term.
Something I did notice throughout the night was how much Guy’s band took up more space during certain songs. I suppose that was done to give Guy a little “breather”, if you will, between songs.
At the end of the day though, it’s an honor to see someone who is still solid musically, and more importantly, loving what they’re doing. So if this is indeed Guy’s final tour, he’s definitely going out on a good note.
A Damn Right Farewell indeed— well-deserved. Congratulations Mr. Guy!