Buddy Guy

In the midst of cleaning my office and preparing for a talk to the Stetson Book Club on Saturday, I’m takin’ a break tonight and going to listen to the great blues legend Buddy Guy.

This is my third concert. The first one was in a tiny smoky basement club in Montreal – back in the Middle Ages. He appeared with Junior Wells. So sorry the man’s no longer with us. About halfway through the first set someone came on stage and handed Buddy a note. (No one calls blues singers “Mr.”) There was a quick huddle, some whispering, then Buddy stepped up to the mic and said, “The king is dead. Long live the king.” It was August 16, 1977, and Elvis had died. As I said in “The Blog Is Back for Real This Time” (March 5), it feels like every time I go on vacation, some big incident occurs.

After the concert I was invited back to the dressing room along with a couple of other folks. Buddy and Junior got into an argument about who really was the King. They decided it wasn’t Elvis, but one claimed it was B.B. King. The other said Albert King because he was “more real.”

A year or so later Buddy and Junior came to Philadelphia where I was living. I caught them at an even smaller, smokier little club that I’m sure violated the fire code. The place was so tiny that the tables were basically foot-wide planks, just wide enough to hold a drink. Patrons had to sit sideways to keep from kicking each other, which was fine because the stage was set perpendicular to the tables.

A few years after that I went to Buddy Guy’s Legends, his club in Chicago. He wasn’t there and my only memory was of the city, not the place. It was so cold that as soon as I stepped onto the pavement I could feel the cold seeping up through the soles of my rather expensive suede boots.

This concert promises to be the best. First of all, there won’t be any smoke, unless people decide to be part of the High Times party. Secondly Ridgefield Playhouse has comfortable seats and will have a much larger crowd, which will make the energy good. When we heard John Mayall the average age was well past 50. Of course he’s past 70, so it’s no surprise that his fans are geriatric, too.

Gotta get my blues groove on, which might be tough since it just began to sleet!

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