Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Buddy Sings the Blues

It's January in Chicago, and you know what that means: wintry balls-out cold, of course. But it's also the month when Buddy Guy gives blues lessons. 

Every Thursday through Sunday, Buddy shreds the stage at his downtown club. He does it each January. Tickets sell out fast, because Buddy is the last real bluesman left, and at age 78, who knows how much longer he'll be bending strings (he bends his really, really hard, incidentally - just ask his guitar tech).

Chicago blues is its own genre, what happened when Delta axe-men like Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Howlin' Wolf plugged in their amps. Their sick licks and electric sound paved the way for rock 'n roll, influencing the Rolling Stones, among many others. Their Chicago story plays out at the old Chess Records site.

Buddy is the last link to the old timers. He was a session guitarist at Chess and backed Muddy and Howlin' Wolf. He might tell the story during his January residency, and you'll be close enough to hear it, since the room only holds 550 people. He might also mention how Leonard Chess slammed him as just making noise, or that pre-fame Eric Clapton used to sleep in a van to come see Guy play when he toured England.

So Chicago in January does have a hot spot. While you're in the minor-key groove, why swing by Muddy Waters' home? And later in 2015 road trip to St Louis for the opening of the new National Blues Museum. Buddy will certainly be there.

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