Buddy Guy still shreds at age 80

-Evan O’Brien, Roots and Blues Intern

Very few people can truly shred the guitar. Even fewer can do it at the age of 80. Buddy Guy is one of those few. I was lucky enough to witness he Louisiana native when he stopped through Kansas City in support of his 2016 album, “Born to Play the Blues.”

Guy is no stranger to Missouri. He has performed countless shows across The Show-Me-State, as recently as last September when Guy preformed at Loufest in St. Louis. Guy, a two-time Roots N Blues alum, delivered a powerful performance with his routine comedic comments interspersed between guitar melodies.

The show was at Crossroads in Kansas City’s Crossroad art district, an outdoor venue bordered only by a fence strung with lights. While we anxiously awaited Guy’s arrival, Roots N Blues alum the Bel Airs took the stage. They set the bar high with a strong 45 minute set, which only added to my excitement for their performance at this year’s festival.

This was the second time I had seen Guy, but this performance was a highly unusual one. The muggy Kansas City sky began to turn grey and dark as an incoming storm rolled through. Guy was not phased by this. He grabbed his axe and did what he knows best: played the blues.

To warm up the crowd to what was to come, Guy stuck to his own material with the title track to his 1991 album, “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues.” From there, it was a flurry of guitar solos and other originals until Mother Nature attempted to end the night prematurely. As Guy was leaving the stage, he proclaimed (while using some colorful language) that he would return with more songs.

After about a 45 minute rain delay, Guy kept his word. As soon as he got the go ahead, he  came right back out and picked up where he left off. He covered some of the greatest in blues history: from Muddy Waters’ “She’s Nineteen Years Old to BB King’s “Sweet Sixteen.” He also gave a shoutout to particular people that have inspired him, playing a sample of some of their most famous work. My personal favorites, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Dixon received love as Guy impersonated the legends.

Since the passing of King, Guy has unofficially been labeled the new king of blues. But the newly titled legend continues to show a great deal of respect for those before him, while simultaneously paving the way for the new generation of blues artists. This includes his own son, who joined him on stage for a segment of the show.

Buddy Guy is an incredible guitarist, and an even a better performer. His unique style of playing is like none other. Not to mention his ability to entertain a crowd with his wowing talent and his extremely entertaining interactions that make him an act you cannot miss. If one thing is certain, the title of his latest album is the truth. Buddy Guy was “Born to Play the Guitar.”

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