Photos by Craig Hlavaty
As Aftermath was cradling his camera, taking pictures of Buddy Guy on Friday night at the House of Blues, he got a bittersweet twinge in his music-loving soul. Once he and B.B. King shuffle off this mortal coil and join the big blues jam in the sky, there will be nobody left.
I don't mean to say that no one else is doing what Guy does. That's for sure. It's just that no one else does it the way Guy does it, and so purely. He learned it all from guys like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf - that's like learning to swim from Michael Phelps, or having Tony Hawk show you how not eat it on vert ramp.
We still have blues stalwarts like Keb' Mo' and kids like Jonny Lang. Hell, even John Mayer, of all people, flies the blues flag in between making female hearts skip a beat. But Buddy Guy is the last of a quickly dying breed, the same way each day's obituaries toll the loss of ma few more World War II vets to age and sickness.
As fans, the best we can do as fans is stand in awe of what we still have left and try to learn something, anything. And that's all Aftermath did as Guy preached away from his carpeted pulpit, banging out riff after riff from his hands to our ears. The sold-out crowd stood in wonder each time he bent a chord or came up for air after jamming alone for what seemed like minutes at a time.
He did every song we could have wanted him to do, sprinkling in new gems from his latest, Skin Deep. Let me tell you now, that he still has a mouth on him. Buddy seemed to curse at every turn, using the f-bomb as noun, adjective and all points in between. And when he's playing with his young band, he seems to be even more energized.
Ric Hall, Friday's second guitar slinger, could only watch and learn. He's not too bad in his own right. The guy has been going to school every night behind Buddy, so he was bound to learn something. The highlight for everyone was Guy disappearing off the stage, and magically appearing amongst the audience, rocking a wireless guitar and playing inches away from our faces.
Imagine sitting in the crowd and all of a sudden you have a living legend grinning at you, breathing the same cool air. The very guy who showed Jimi Hendrix how it's done. Even he once said, "Heaven is lying at Buddy Guy's feet while listening to him play guitar."
So no rush, Buddy. No rush. - Craig Hlavaty