At 81 years young, Buddy Guy is proof that the blues are alive and well. This past weekend, Guy made the second stop on his latest tour to support his new album last week in Kansas City at the famous Knucklehead’s Saloon.
Opening for Guy was Carolyn Wonderland, another blues guitarist with a heavy influence from some of the legendary Blues acts. Wonderland played a full–hour set and immediately gathered attention from those who arrived early due to her captivating performance. Her strong vocals matched with her ability to perfectly embody the Texas blues style made for a phenomenal start to the evening. She was even able to get a perfectly timed train whistle from the nearby train tracks in the midst of her impressive performance.
Once the sun was down on what was arguably the perfect summer night (cooler temps and a breeze is always a plus in the Midwest), the current king of the blues came out swinging. I’ve seen Guy numerous times, but this night was much different. With his usual swagger, provocative moves and his sailor mouth, Guy kept the crowd engaged all night. Guy started off his headlining show with the lemgendary hit, “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues.” Immediately, the crowd was in awe with his guitar solos, all before the first song of the night had even finished.
Saying Guy is a showman is a massive understatement. His ability to entertain can only be matched by a select few, if any. From the never-ending pelvic thrusts to playing his guitar with a drumstick, Guy somehow finds a way to make the playful banter just as entertaining as the music. He even makes you smile as he tells you to “shut the fuck up.”
The Roots N Blues alum performed his usual covers of legendary blues songs like the Willie Dixon-written and Muddy Waters–preformed, “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” as well as Waters’ “She’s Nineteen Years Old.” The one that stood out this time, though, was Guy’s cover of “Who’s Making Love,” a song made famous by Johnnie Taylor. In typical Guy fashion, he made the crowd sing the chorus as he did his thing on the guitar. The sold-out crowd belted out the words to the track as Guy looked out with a huge grin on his smile, making them sing it over and over. Yet, it never got quitter, only louder.
The highlight of the evening was when Guy brought out a 19 year old by the name of Quinn Sullivan. The teen was a viral sensation, having appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and even being brought on stage 11 years ago by Guy himself to preform in Sullivan’s home state of Massachusetts. Guy sang the highest of praises on stage before making the kid show the crowd why he is the real deal. From Eric Clapton to Jimmy Hendrix and even my personal favorite, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Sullivan emulated the stars that have kept the blues alive perfectly.
The evening ended with a beautiful rendition of the title song from Guy’s 2008 album Skin Deep. The meaning itself is important, but the emotion packed in Guy’s voice makes this song even more impactful because you can see it being sung from the heart.
I said previously that this show was different. On this night, the Friday before Father’s Day, I was able to surprise my own dad with tickets. My dad taught me my love for the blues, just like his father taught him that very same love. I’ve seen Guy with him before even, but on this night it was just a little bit more special. To share this night with him made the performance even better. Buddy Guy said that he would play the blues till the day he died, but in the meantime one thing is for damn sure. The blues are a still alive and well.