Buddy Guy brings his legendary Chicago blues to mighty Motor City for a musical a night of musical memories that will last a lifetime.
It’s a busy Thursday night in Motown, and the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts opened early for tonight’s event to welcome the thousands of blues fans who traveled across the state. Lines are deep and far from the box office and almost circle the building as a diverse crowd of young and old eagerly wait to be seated for the most important moment of the evening: a intimate evening with the Chicago blues legend. Boyfriend. It’s been two years since Buddy last came to Motor City due to our pandemic conditions, and these fans traveled from as far as the Upper Peninsula to make this night a reality.
It is now 9:05 p.m., the stage lights go out and dark figures can be seen moving across the stage. From the darkness emerges an unmistakable black and white polka dot shirt… simultaneously, the stage lights come on and the band kicks off the start of “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues.” And there… right there… center stage, clutching a vintage Fender Stratocaster and grinning from ear to ear, is living legend, Chicago blues master and blues elder George “Buddy.” Guy.
Wasting no time, this blues Jedi gets to work on this battered old Stratocaster, sounding the opening notes of this neck as the fans roar, giving him a standing ovation. He approaches the microphone, soaking up the energy of the audience, and sketches a mischievous smile before launching the first line: “You’re right, I have the blues… From head to shoes. The crowd continues their roaring ovation.
Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” comes next, and Buddy walks to the edge of the stage, staring at the front row. He kicks off that intro riff, pinching hard with his fingers and letting the note hold with a smile. A gentleman in the front row yells, “Ooooooo weeeee… Mom says that’s stinky! Buddy pauses to give her a smile and goes straight back to the classic.
A smoldering cover of Muddy Waters’ “She’s Nineteen Years Old” is next and we see second guitarist Ric “Jaz” Hall step into the spotlight and lay down a guitar solo that almost made you hear Muddy Waters’ voice- even saying “Shit Son!” Willie Dixon’s “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” then unfolds and the audience joins in singing along with the chorus. “Skin Deep” and “Dirty Mother Fuyer” (by Billy Boy Arnold) are followed by an ode to Buddy’s close friend, BB King, with a savory rendition of King’s track “Downhearted (aka How Blue Can You Get .)” “Downhearted” boils down to the last note, and before Buddy can deliver the final lyrics of the song, a man in front/near the mic, shouts “How blue can you get!” Buddy looks at the audience and says “Thanks for that sir!” The crowd erupts in laughter at Buddy’s quick-witted response.
The group glides through Lindsey/Alexander’s cover “Mona Lisa Was a Man” and Al Green’s “Take Me to the River”, and Buddy occasionally pauses to smile as his audience shouts “We t ‘love it, Buddy!’ This phenomenon occurs throughout the night, between each song! Buddy mentions that Detroit has had many great bluesmen over the years and proceeds to a growling version of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom”. Legends drummer Tony Hambridge, keyboardist Marty Sammon and bassist Orlando Wright keep this infectious groove tight and deep in his pocket all night long.
Buddy yells, “I’ll play blues all night if you let me!” The night continues with more classics like Denise LaSalle’s track “Someone Else Is Stepping In”, a few teasers, excerpts and smiles from Eric Clapton, the great Albert King “Drowning on Dry Land”, and even Slim Harpo, “I am a king bee.”
Between songs, Buddy shares many amusing comments and memories, frequently engaging his audience with the masterful storytelling skills of a true entertainer. Not to spoil the surprise but you might (ooooorrrrr maybe not) come face to face with a legend if this 85-year-old Chicago Bluesman decides to go on the prowl… (go get a ticket, and see what that gives encrypted message could mean!)
Buddy Guy is a recommended concert experience that should be on everyone’s performance list. His tones, his moans and those licks that come from those Louisiana bones will light up the darkest night and shine rays of light on this young generation who desperately need a blues revival. No matter your musical tastes or the living environment you choose to hang out in… Anyone who sits down to a live performance by Buddy Guy is guaranteed to smile at this man’s passion, talent and humble charisma. presence that is the true essence of Chicago blues.
MUSIC HALL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER