Written by Jim Bille
Dec 05, 2008 at 08:00 PM
ImageIt was party time Chicago style when Buddy Guy took over the House of Blues last Friday night. The man who many guitar greats have credited as one of their major influences was in town to shake the place up with his brand of classic Chicago Blues. To give you an idea of who aligns themselves with Buddy Guy listen to his  most recent release from 2008 entitled ”Skin Deep”. Some of his protégés featured on this CD are Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Eric Clapton and Robert Randolph. Also featured on the CD is Quinn Sullivan, a 9 year old guitar prodigy who worships the Beatles and Chicago Blues.

At 72 years young, Guy is still the blues power house to be reckoned with. His playing can range from ear piercing, slap your mama, tornado fast riffs to sweet and subtle string bending so soft that it can make you cry. Played either way, his musical presence demands the crowds’ attention and controls that attention throughout the show. He masterfully demonstrated both techniques during Friday’s performance playing some new and old songs from his extensive library that spans over 40 years.

Hawking his new CD Guy worked a few notable songs from the release into his show. The song “Best Damn Fool” from the CD was especially noteworthy. It had everything a Buddy Guy song should have including screaming guitar work and screaming vocals.  A more subdued ballad, the title track from the CD called “Skin Deep” revealed Guy’s somewhat softer side. That didn’t last long.

Buddy Guy can’t stay away from the gut bucket sound that has made him famous for all these years as he worked the crowd with a tribute / medley number to some of his heroes. The medley included John Lee Hookers “Boom Boom Boom”, “Strange Brew” by Cream and an unworldly version of the Hendrix standard “Voodoo Chile” all rolled into one. Other classic’s featured during the set included “Mustang Sally” and “Fever”.

During the performance Guy decided to go for a stroll through the gleeful crowd while steadily working the strings of his Fender Stratocaster guitar. He parted the audience with little effort as the crowd was at his musical mercy and command by then. Boarding the elevator in the back of the music hall Buddy now took the three story trip down to the restaurant all the while never missing a note. A few minutes later he re-appeared from the lift and proceeded back to the stage finishing up the musical exercise.

The entire evening was paced at a frantic gallop with Guy conducting the band and the crowd at his pleasure to sing along or to just get into the blues celebration being brought to us by one of the masters of the genre.

If they gave a Grammy for best live performance Buddy Guy would add another to the five he’s already won over the years. Besides the Grammy’s, other accolades bestowed on Buddy Guy include 23 W.C. Handy Awards and the Presidential National Medal of Arts. Rolling Stone magazine featured him on the cover earlier this year listing his 1961 recording of “Stone Crazy” as one of their top 100 Greatest Guitar Songs.