Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Buddy System

It's Thursday and time for the last post of July, where we give it up to one of the greatest living guitar heroes.
Yes, Buddy Guy is 79 today. I hope you know who Buddy Guy is. Some of the bestest guitar players ever to live have called him mentor. Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton come to mind. Today's share has him jamming, on his 53rd birthday, with yet another.
He's been doing it a long time, hence the accolades. He wouldn't be ranked #30 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time poll if he hadn't. But don't let that wretched rag's opinion discourage you from understanding he's really all that and a bag of picks, either.
Phrases like "Last Living Legend of the Blues" get thrown around a lot, but now that B.B. is gone, Buddy might be the last man standing in this regard. You hear him play one stinging phrase and you know it's him and that signature, machine gun tone.
There are a million possibilities in terms of what to share to honor him today, but whenever I can do a birthday set on someone's actual birthday I tend to go for it. This one is an hour, apparently recorded onto DAT off the mixing desk, from Buddy's 53rd birthday party at his club in Chicago called Legends. It features Buddy trading pyrotechnic fret-frying duties with another of his many heavyweight disciples, Stevie Ray Vaughan.
These two first played together in 1977 and were best friends right up until SRV's untimely death in the helicopter crash disaster in 1990. This crushing sixty minutes of mayhem dates from 1989, when SRV had sobered up and was playing at the absolute peak of his powers. He would be dead within just over a year of this performance.
And what a performance. There isn't all that much singing... these two axe-grinders prefer to light up the air around their amplifiers with chorus after chorus of blazingly intense pentatonia. Obviously the packed house goes wild with each six-string salvo and things reach a fevered intensity, with BG and SRV trading boasts and blasts of blues over the 18+ minute finale. After an hour of all this, you need a rest.
Buddy Guy & Stevie Ray Vaughan
Chicago, IL

01 It's Still Called the Blues
02 Champagne & Reefer
03 Mary Had a Little Lamb
04 Leave My Girl Alone

Total time: 56:33

Buddy Guy - guitar & vocals
Stevie Ray Vaughan - guitar & vocals
piano/bass/drums/sax - unknown

1994 Swingin' Pig boot CD of a master soundboard DAT
I have no idea who the other players are on this show, but we know who's playing the guitars, at any rate. My advice is to pull this down and play it exceedingly loud, for the maximum celebration quotient to be achieved. After all, it's Buddy Guy's 79th birthday -- and the 26th anniversary of this blistering set -- and the occasion demands nothing less!--J.