As you may know, I bought Buddy Guy tickets as stocking stuffers for my family this past Christmas. My son was relating this to his friend Jordan who convinced his dad to take him. There wasn't any real convincing required, as his dad is quite an accomplished guitarist and songwriter and was quite familiar with Blues and Buddy Guy. And so Jordan and his dad's tickets were quickly purchased.
The newspaper story yesterday made it a point to mention how Buddy Guy, at 72 has much more energy on stage than folks half his age. But the Buddy Guy from last night's concert seemed like his age is catching him. He has no trouble sharing the spotlight with his band and gives them ample time to show off their tremendous talents. If you've been to a show, you know he likes to stop and tell little stories to segue into a different song. "You know", he said, "I didn't open a Blues club to make any money. ... I opened the club so the Blues would always have a place to go". And you can tell he means it.
About two weeks ago, Jordan's dad was required to go on a business trip to DC and couldn't go. Anyone with teenagers understands how often and how quickly plans change before something comes to fruition. At one point, I was asked if I could take him and then it was arranged that his older brother would take him. I'm sure the plan changed a hundred times before yesterday. His dad comes from a single-parent family and takes his promises very seriously, so he gave his ticket away to his eldest to ensure that his promise to get Jordan to the show would be kept.
Two nights ago, they found out that Jordan's brother also had to work. His dad had already left, so their tickets were sold. I'm still not sure why they didn't just ask me to take him and sell only one ticket. Perhaps the buyer was only interested in buying two. I don't really know. Not to be dissuaded, on the day of the concert, Jordan somehow finds out that his chemistry teacher has tickets but decided not to go. So he makes arrangements to buy these tickets. They basically amount to an upgrade from the second section to the floor. First row, center seats. These are tickets that I was told were unavailable only hours after the concert was announced. He "texts" his dad with the news and his dad decides to drive from DC to see the show, then drive back that night after the show.
After the opening act, Jordan sits with us and he is clearly excited to see the show. He says, "You know, Buddy Guy is one of the 25 best guitarists alive in the world today". "I touched a guitar that was once owned by BB King". He also mentions that his grandfather played with Muddy Waters. Even though I like to think I know his family well, this was something I didn't know. His grandfather had abandoned his family, so there is almost no mention of him in all of the stories I have heard over the years.
Once the opening act's equipment is removed from the stage, Jordan returns to his seat and the Buddy Guy show begins. Buddy engages the audience like no other artist I have witnessed. "Years ago", he says, "I was playing in Philadelphia with Jimi Hendrix [plays opening to Voodo Chile]. I used to drive past here all the time on my way back to Chicago. I always wondered when y'all would call me to come and play [smiles and plays some more]".
One thing that you can regularly expect at a Buddy Guy concert is for him to leave the stage in the middle of a song and contiue to play as he meanders through the audience. He'll sometimes stop playing and engage some one in conversation or tell part of a story. Before the advent of wireless, he would use an extra long cord to help him achieve this.
Jordan's dad, knowing that Buddy Guy always hands out guitar picks at all his shows, thought it would be neat if Jordan would offer Buddy his guitar pick. So Jordan approached and offered his pick. And Buddy asks: "Do you play guitar son?". Who, but a fellow guitarist would always have a pick handy? Jordan says yes, and Buddy escorts him on stage and offers his guitar. This whole time the band has continued to play.
I suppose that Buddy thought that if this wasn't going to work out, he would simply smile, make an encouraging remark and ask the audience to applaud for the brave kid who came up on stage. But Jordan has been playing for years and the kid can play. So Jordan does his best interpretation of B.B.King, Muddy Waters and whatever else he could pull out of his hat. And Buddy retreats to the background, out of the light and has a huge smile on his face the whole time. Once Jordan was finished, Buddy comes back and asks him to play some more!
Buddy Guy lives for Blues music and his wish is for it is to continue when he is gone. He has seen many of his peers pass on and he knows that he is getting on in years. When he had Jordan playing, I like to believe that he was thinking that maybe his efforts were paying off.
This is the guitar Jordan played: