Famed blues guitarist Buddy Guy made his annual concert appearance at Massey Hall in Toronto, Saturday night, April 5, 2008. Buddy’s rhythm section has been part of his band for several years now. All are seasoned pros from the Chicago blues scene.
On 2nd lead and rhythm guitar is Ric ‘Jaz Guitar’ Hall, with Orlando Wright on electric bass, Tim Austin on drums and Marty Sammon on electric keyboards.
Sammon’s comical antics while playing piano with Buddy, were at times reminiscent of how New Orleans sax great Sam Butera played some funny made up solos that Louis Prima would mimic back and forth with him. Buddy and Marty each tried to outdo each other’s interesting and sometimes humorous solos, which really got the crowd’s interest up.
Buddy’s guitar playing was outstanding as usual. He went from almost inaudible, quiet lead solos, full of the most superb control and technique around, to loud, scorching, super-wild leads that back in the ‘60s were some of Hendrix’s most inspiring influences that helped Jimi aspire to his own guitar greatness. Buddy mentioned a DVD he has out now, from a 1960s concert of his, which shows Hendrix in the audience.
Buddy also appears live with the Rolling Stones, performing "Champagne & Reefer" in Martin Scorcese’s current concert film, Shine A Light. It made its worldwide debut in movie theatres a few days before Buddy’s April 5th '08 concert at Massey Hall, with a special opening night in Chicago that Buddy and his band attended.
Ric and Buddy traded some awesome solos off one another at various times the most memorable being their solos to one another on Willie Dixon’s classic blues "Hootchie Cootchie Man". Although Buddy’s ‘da man’ and has been for several decades worldwide, it seemed that Hall’s guitar virtuosity was another branch from that same tree of great genius that Buddy’s God-given talent is inspired from. His leads were equally as terrific as Buddy’s at times. Having two such incredible guitar talents onstage playing together at the same time, was a double bonus for Guy’s many blues fans on hand for this very special concert performance. Bassist Wright did an admirable job backing Buddy this night, but at times let loose with some breathtaking solos of his own, that even Mr. Guy seemed impressed by!
Buddy’s walk through the audience was absolutely phenomenal! His fans were thrilled to see their guitar idol playing to them right in front of them at their seats. This writer had that great pleasure as well during Buddy’s blues walk, when he stopped three feet in front of me, and played some incredible leads to me, with a totally delighted look on his face. Across the aisle from me, some of his fans were luckier than most, having Buddy sit right down next to them, playing his heart out on the otherworldly blues standard "Drowning On Dry Land". Buddy’s leads on this one seem almost like a bluesy interpretation inspired by Handel’s ‘Messiah’, due to the absolutely captivating and highly involved leads Buddy plays during this part of his show. These beautifully melodious leads could and possibly did inspire tears in the audience due to their ‘higher’ partaking of ‘the blues muse’ which in a sense could symbolize ‘drowning (in tears of joy)’ on ‘dry land’ so to speak, while seated in the audience listening to Buddy’s performance.
Buddy also went out onto the front sidewalk at Massey Hall on Shuter St., to entertain the people walking by and standing around there. He must have really blown their minds with the awesome leads he played to them, via his remote hookup to his amp onstage.
Buddy didn’t do as much Hendrix as in previous shows I’ve seen, but his incredible scorching leads this night, certainly pointed towards the deep influence Hendrix must have soaked up from Buddy’s performances in the ‘60s, which helped him develop his guitar talent to its own heights of glory.
Tim Austin’s drum solo was amazing to watch, and well received by the audience. However, it would have been nice to see him do another one like that earlier in the show. The other players onstage were showcased in several solos in various parts of Buddy’s concert. Buddy’s proud introduction of his backup players shows how well he appreciates their talents on stage with him at his shows. They’ve all been with him in his band for a number of years now.
When Buddy finally left the Massey Hall stage after an incredibly invigorating performance, it was sad only because we weren’t going to see him play live for a while in the Toronto area. His band continued playing when he was finished, and managed to keep the audience’s attention with some incredible bluesy musical acrobatics of virtuousity, which helped us all venture into Chicago’s ‘A’ list clubs, without having to leave our seats at Toronto’s Massey Hall. They all have their own bands and myspace sites, including Hall who is a longtime member of legendary Harvey, Illinois soul/doo-wop band The Dells: http://www.themightydells.com/ famous for their fabulous '50s and '60s recordings on the Chess label on 'Record Row' in Chicago.
All the members of Buddy's blues band can be seen performing in various other band configurations of their own, when not on tour with Guy, or in concert with him at his Legends nightclub in Chicago.
This kind of show that the Buddy Guy Blues Band put on this night at Massey Hall, is one that makes the audience feel good to have been there -- and is one that will no doubt conjure fond musical memories and twinges in their heartstrings for many years to come.