Saturday, March 26, 2011

Buddy Guy on Video

Besides the late Robin Sylar, Buddy Guy is my favorite blues guitarist of all ti-i-ime. I first heard him on Junior Wells' Hoodoo Man Blues album, and when I was in college, I found his I Was Walking Through the Woods (a compilation of his Chess singles; he cut for a bunch of labels over the years) in the bargain bin at Just A Song in Albany. I've never seen him live. When he used to play at Caravan of Dreams (a venue I really liked the _idea_ of, but couldn't really afford to go to), I always said I'd catch him when he played for free in Sundance Square, but never got around to doing so for some reason.

I haven't really been thrilled by the records he released since his post-1990 rediscovery, but there's a bunch of prime Buddy on Youtube, some of which is DVD-available. When he was young, he looked like a bassplayer I used to play with back on Long Island, and he definitely gave you your money's worth in showmanship and crazy-fingered solo action, inspahrd by James Brown as much as he was by Guitar Slim.

Buddy stole the show in the Festival Express documentary, which followed a bunch of musos (including Fort Worthian Jim Colegrove, back when he played bass for Ian and Sylvia's Great Speckled Bird) as they toured Canada on a train back in 1970. I like the way Buddy's band (including Phil Guy on second guitar) look more like Funkadelic than what you'd expect a blues band to look like (although not as bad-ass as the hoodlum-looking bunch I saw Freddie King with in Albany in '78). And dig the way Buddy gets down off the festival stage, accompanied by a roadie with an extra-long guitar cord, to work the crowd.

We just watched Supershow, which I believe was originally made for Brit TV and showcased Buddy in several contexts, including this fiery workout with Buddy Miles on drums, Jack Bruce on bass, and saxophonists Roland Kirk, Dick Heckstall-Smith, and Chris Mercer.

Even better is this clip from the 1972 documentary Chicago Blues, which captures Buddy and Junior Wells in a Chicago club, as well as Muddy Waters, J.B. Hutto, and others. (I'm currently stalking it on Amazon.)

Of similar vintage and intensity, but neither embeddable nor, as far as I can tell, DVD-or-VHS-available, is this clip of Buddy and Junior performing at Theresa's in Chicago, from a French documentary. (Be forewarned: audio volume on the clip is low, so you've gotta turn your computer's volume up.) If anybody knows different, lemme know.


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