It's that time of year again ... time to enjoy yet another of the great bluesman/guitarist Buddy Guy's fine blues concerts at Toronto's Massey Hall.
On 2nd lead guitar is Ric Hall, maybe better known as 'RicJaz Guitar' to some ... a favorite of this writer and others over the years ... having seen him perform onstage with Buddy Guy on several occasions indoors and outdoors throughout the years. Whatever the occasion, he always gives 110 per cent in his blues renditions whenever called upon by Buddy to solo or accompany him on high-intensity rhythm blues guitar.
Marty Sammon is Buddy's longtime blues piano-man, and never fails to please. His musician antics onstage are a crowd favorite, which Buddy employs to the ninth degree, with his own comedic sense of timing, during their back and forth solos to one another. One major treat to the auditory senses, is Marty's brief excursion into some deeply thought-out classical piano concerto-type soloing. This although on the surface appearing slightly high brow, is really a showcase of the broad spectrum of Marty's wide interest and talent on the ivories. Being at Massey Hall, on its prestigious stage shared by countless other piano virtuosos over the past century, Marty's 'magic on the keyboards' is a highly enjoyable part of every Buddy Guy concert this writer has seen.
Buddy's guitar virtuosity spans the gamut from slow, sleepy blues to high-energy scorchers which Hendrix himself copied and worked on, to help develop his own distinctive guitar style in the '60s. Hendrix is even seen on DVD, in the audience at one of Buddy's concerts in the mid '60s. This is truly one guitar master studying up close the talent of another, in order to advance to a higher level of guitar expertise. One Hendrix hit which Buddy drifts into is "Purple Haze", as well as "Voodoo Chile" and a little "Foxy Lady" for good measure.
On occasion, the great Tom Hambridge has joined Buddy on tour, when he wasn't performing with other iconic blues and rock stars like the Lynyrd Skynyrd Band, among others. Hambridge is co-writer with Buddy of the title song 'Skin Deep" of the CD of the same name. He performed this a couple of years back to high acclaim by Buddy's fans in attendance at Massey Hall and other major locales around the world.
Orlando Wright keeps the groove going on bass all through Buddy's shows, and has a showcase solo or two at each concert as well ... that always peaks this writer's interest immeasurably. The same can be said for Buddy's drummer extraordinaire ... Tim Austin. Austin's powerhouse talent on the skins lends a quiet strength to the immeasurable intensity of any Buddy Guy concert I've had the pleasure to see.
One of my favorite parts of a blues evening with Buddy Guy is the part where he and guitarist Hall solo off one another on Willie Dixon's deeply moving "Hootchie Cootchie Man". The talent that these two guitar geniuses exude onstage when inventing new solos to bounce off one another's imaginations, is truly a natural high that can't be beat.
On a previous occasion on Massey's venerable stage, Buddy and Ric sat down and played an acoustic blues duet with one another. This really hearkens back to the back porch blues jams from which many of these fine and talented artists grew up with and were nurtured by in the blues. This would include some of their highly acclaimed predecessors like T-Bone Walker, J.B. Lenoir and Howlin' Wolf's main man on guitar the great the late, great Hubert Sumlin whose recenty passing is a sorrowful loss to the blues community.
Buddy has played double bills with the one and only B.B. King in past years, and with other fine notables, including members of the Rolling Stones among others. In his early years there was even some fine accompaniment on blues harmonic by the late great Sonny Boy Williamson ll. In the mid -'60s he began recording with blues harp great Junior Wells, and along with Wells performed various times over the years with the 'Father of Chicago Blues', Muddy Waters.
All this deeply ingrained background in the blues, and as a major influence on '60s rockers like Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and others along the path to greatness, is what Buddy Guy brings to the stage, whenever or wherever he performs around the world.
Music fans can always be assured when attending a Buddy Guy concert that he and his fabulous band will ultimately bring up the spirits of those that are down, and keep those of a positive disposition on a natural high, throughout his almost two-hour performance. When the blues sounds this good, and flows along without a hitch, you know you're in the presence of greatness onstage with Buddy and all of the fine blues artists who complement his talent with their own, at each and every Buddy Guy Blues Band concert the world over.
Buddy Guy and his iconic blues band will be playing Toronto's Massey Hall on Friday, April 13, 2012. Regardless of the 'unlucky' connotations of the '13th', this is sure to be a very lucky time for whoever attends this sure-to-be mind-blowing blues extravaganza. Other Canadian dates on the tour include Hamilton Place in Hamilton, Ontario April 11th, and The Metropolis in Montreal, Quebec the day after the Toronto show, on Saturday, April 14, 2012.