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Class In Session with Buddy Guy at Silver Legacy

By Nick McCabe
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Buddy Guy. Image: Nick McCabe

Scroll down for a gallery of images from the show.

Buddy Guy “schooled” the room on the blues Friday night, March 23, 2018, at the Silver Legacy in Reno. By schooled, I mean not only did he play the blues, but he told stories of the history of the blues, where the genre came from, how it got to where it is now, and personal stories of his own experiences as a bluesman. A big deal is made over the fact that he’s 81 years old and still playing the blues, but it is a big deal. Buddy Guy is walking talking history of the blues.

I’ve seen him a few times over the years and I can confirm that he is taking it more slow and easy on stage these days. His playing and singing are as good as ever. There’s just more storytelling, interacting with the crowd, and “freshen up” breaks than I remember. He’s reminding me more and more of B.B. King with the stories. Unfortunately, that means less playing too.

He came on strong with “Damn Right I Got The Blues” and “Hoochie Coochie Man.” Having done this for so many years his style and presentation is seamless and fluid. He can pluck a note so soft and sweet that it sounds like a butterfly is playing it, but when he wants to he can shatter glass with a single note. When he cooked, he cooked. The whole house came alive. His backing band has all the chops necessary to kick it into overdrive in a moment’s notice, which was typically what they got. Buddy would go from story to music without warning, and they were there every time.

“The radio don’t play the blues no more. The lyrics were a bit strong for the young people. But boy oh boy, when hip hop come out, I could sing what the fuck I want to.” –  Buddy Guy

About two-thirds of the way through the show Buddy took a walk through the crowd all the way to the back of the room while playing and singing. That always gets people going. Being surrounded by security and fans made it hard to get a picture to share with you, but I did it.

“Until the British kids started playing the blues and brought it back here you didn’t know who Muddy Waters, BB King, and all us were. There used to be a show on TV called “Shindig,” and they were dying to get The Rolling Stones to come on. Mick Jagger said, “I’ll do the show if you let me bring on Muddy Waters.” They said, “Who the hell is Muddy Waters?”…that was the first time I saw Muddy Waters on the television.” – Buddy Guy

After the first few songs he started cutting off songs part way through and either turning to talk, or just moving on to something else. He even played the tiniest snippets of “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Voodoo Child,” “Strange Brew,” and some other classic songs. This did prove to be entertaining in its own way, but I sure would have liked hearing the songs from beginning to end. Wanting a little more chocolate on the ice cream doesn’t mean I didn’t like the ice cream. It just means I would have liked a little more of that sweetness.

There was a high point near the end of the show when he brought out a beautiful instrument called a Stars Guitar Electric Sitar on which he played his beautiful anthem “Skin Deep,” a song inspired by a conversation he had with his mother when he was a young boy. Skin Deep has also been made into a music video with many guest artists involved to raise funds for the Play for Change cause which raises money to fund music education.

All things considered, it was a good evening with Buddy Guy. Maybe I didn’t get everything I was hoping for out of it, but to quote one of those young British bands Buddy was talking about…

“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes…
You just might find
You get what you need!”

– The Rolling Stones


The Band
Marty Sammon, Keys
Orlando Wright, Bass
Tim Austin, Drums
Ric Hall, Guitar

Partial Set List
“Damn Right I Got The Blues”
“Hoochie Coochie Man”
“Nineteen Years Old”
“Five Long Years”
“You Know I Love You Baby”
“Who’s Making Love”
“Feels Like Rain”
“Goin’ Down”
“Someone Else is Slippin’ In”
“Boom Boom”
“Ain’t That Peculiar”
“Strange Brew”



Kris Tengberg March 30, 2018 - 2:11 pm

Thank you for the story and pictures, Nick.

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