Monday, April 17, 2006

Out of Sight

Stones Week ends, Buddy Week begins. Buddy Guy, that is, with Robert Cray at the Enmore Theatre this Wednesday night. Sure, I've heard tell of erratic idiosyncratic live performances leaving fans baffled and disappointed bemused and the ticket prices make the Stones look positively charitable but a) it's Buddy Guy and b) I'm late to this legends-seeing game. When you're 29 you take every opportunity you have to see these guys. Ain't none of us got the luxury of picking and choosing.

I recently got a hold of a DVD, The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969 Volume Three. I'll definitely be getting Vols 1,2 and 4. And 5 and 6 and 7 if they exist.

The series is billed as "a rare collection of performances by America's premiere bluesmen at the peak of their artistry." These are the tours cited over and over again as major influences on that whole generation of English folky, bluesy, rocky types and Robert Plant, Eric Clapton and others recall the impact in the liner notes, which are excellent. The quality of the black and white film is gorgeous (better than my screenshots), being recorded in TV studios, mostly in Germany. So many highlights I think I'll have to make a series of it.

Buddy makes an appearance on the first number, guitarorising on Hound Dog with Big Mama Thornton. The notes record that "many in the audience for the AFBF tour that fall were surprised by Guy's full-on attack and his take no prisoners guitar pyrotechnics."

He didn't make so much of an impression on others however,

He had visited the United Kingdom earlier in the year, appearing on the British television show Ready Steady Go! in February where he was mistakenly introduced by the host, Cathy McGowan, as Chuck Berry. When McGowan apologized for her mistake later on in the programme, she unbelievably referred to Guy as Chubby Checker.

Track 3 is Buddy on "Out of Sight."

Playing both the rhythm and horn riffs on his guitar, he moved in ways which foreshadowed Jimi Hendrix. The kinetic energy is contagious.

Blues player? Doing a James Brown soul number? Quelle horreur! "I was here in Chicago," Guy explains, "and every joint we played in had a jukebox and if you couldn't play those Top 10 numbers on the jukebox, you wasn't gonna play in this club! So, that's what had me doing the James Brown. I didn't know what the fuck is going on in Europe. I've never been there before. Didn't nobody come up and tell me, 'Hey man, you gotta play blues!"

After Buddy cottoned on to the fact that the Europeans didn't appreciate their blues artists playing soul music, "Out of Sight" was removed from his repetoire and, for the rest of the tour, Guy played nothing but straight 12-bar blues.

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