Buddy Guy has a reputation. Everybody knows his name.
The 81-year-old guitar legend said he can play something so funky you can smell it. He stepped on the stage and basked in the cheers filling Silver Legacy’s Grande Exposition Hall on Friday, March 23.
“You’re all making me happy,” Guy said after starting his set with Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues. “And when I get happy, I get carried away.”
He continued to thank Reno fans for their support and energy, but he took them to task when they messed up the lyrics to “Hoochie Coochie Man,” first recorded by Guy’s blues idol, Muddy Waters.
“I played the same song in Tokyo three weeks ago, and guess what?” Guy said. “They didn’t (mess) it up like you just did. I’m at home now, let’s do it again.”
He occasionally stops a song, points at the audience, and says, “Let me tell you something else,” then pouring out wisdom about the way things were or should be. Most songs were accompanied by a story or a message of positivity or hilarity. Guy said he used to be nervous to sing his blues tales of sadness and debauchery in front of the youth.
“When hip-hop came out,” Guy said. “I thought, ‘I can say whatever I want now’.”
Guy also has fun with his band members. He went back and forth with his keyboard player and let the other guitarist onstage shine as well.
Buddy has unrelenting energy from his shuffling feet to his gyrating jaw, which moves from left to right like Winnie the Pooh with a mouth full of bees. He howls and grinds his teeth for vibrato. He screams, has a beautiful falsetto and hum-scats a solo without losing his breath.
During an intro he turned his guitar around and matched the scratching of guitar strings against his embroidered overalls with the rhythm of the drummer. He stared out into the crowd, truly feeling those scratches, sometimes so much he’d mumble, “shiiiiit.”
Guy has a way of making you feel at home. His immense talent is matched by his charm.
“I like it here,” Guy said. “Y’all make a fella play all night.”
– Tony Contini