Friday, March 2, 2012

Concert Review - Buddy Guy, Green Bay Oneida Casino

We took in Buddy Guy's show last night at the Oneida Casino in Green Bay, and to say I was impressed would be a gross understatement.  Fortunately, I was able to see it, as that was almost not the case. 

The evening started with a horrible queue situation in the casino, where liquor distribution, people just standing around drinking, and people wanting to get into the venue conjoined in a mass of humanity that was dozens deep and just not moving. 

After 20 minutes we finally were able to enter the venue, albeit with dour moods.  They were made worse by the configuration of the room, where our stage left, seventh row tickets were so far left that we needed to sit sideways to try and enjoy the show.  Likewise the seating configuration was cramped and tight, leaving my normally steadfast wife complaining about claustrophobia.  I actually floated the idea of leaving, and was mulling how we would extract ourselves when we were literally saved by a man with a golden axe. 

The band came out, got about a minute into the intro, and quickly brought out the legend.  Buddy immediately had the crowd eating out of his hand - he epitomizes stage presence and showmanship, and his guitar work and strong vocals belied his 75 years. 

I've seen lots of great guitar players live.  I would argue that Guy's performance last night was among the best.  Playing clean, then dirty.  Loud, then barely audible.  Playing with the guitar on his shoulder.  And always with a effervescent grin on his face; often calling "wait a minute," to the crowd as he shifted into something new.  He was brilliant. 

Highlights of the evening included a hilarious audience participation on Hoochie Coochie Man, a sweet and touching version of Skin Deep,  and leading vocals on Feels Like Rain while he turned over guitar work to his son Greg and to guitar prodigy Quinn Sullivan. 

Sullivan played three songs in the middle of the set, and was incredible to see.  While he's been working with Guy for a while, it is still amazing to see a 13 year old playing guitar like he did.  His interplay with Guy was spot on, and as he stood there, his body language looked scarily like Eric Clapton's.  It was weird to see. 

A nice highlight of Quinn's set was Guy quieting down the band as Quinn was coming out of a raging solo, and it appeared to be a change-up to see how the kid would handle it.  Sullivan appeared a bit confused for a second and looked back to the band, where Guy was grinning a nodding subtly as if to say, "Son, you don't always need to play loud to play well."  For a player like Guy, a genius of moving between loud and soft, it was a lesson in the middle of the concert from the master to the student.  That, in and of itself, made the whole night for me. 

Buddy Guy is a rare gem.  He started off backing for giants like Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf, and Sonny Boy Williamson.  He directly influenced players like Jimi Hendrix, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Jimmy Page.  And now he's bringing along a player like Quinn Sullivan.  He's a bridge that links some of the blues finest days to today.  And the way he played last night, it was obvious that the bridge is made of solid stone, with foundations that run deep. 

What a fantastic night. 

1 comment:

  1. Agree, Buddy was unbelievable last night. Casino or not, I feel very fortunate to have seen him play at all in Green Bay.


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