“If you don’t think you have the blues, just keep living.” – Buddy Guy
January 16, 2021 Volume 2, Issue 5
Searching For Buddy Guy by Marty Weil @ChiBluesHistory
Buddy Guy at Legends
British blues fan, Alan Harper, wrote “Searching for Buddy Guy,” a memoir in which the author haunts Chicago blues clubs in the early 1980s hoping to have a moment with Buddy Guy. This year those searching for Buddy Guy won’t find him at his Chicago nightclub, Legends, during his annual January homestand due to the ongoing Covid crisis. Known as “The Buddy Shows,” Guy normally performs a dozen or more shows on four consecutive weekends at his club. In 2020, weeks before the Covid-induced lockdowns went into effect, Guy had a full schedule of 16 shows.
I was lucky to attend one of The Buddy Guy shows during his annual homestand in the 1990s when Legends was located at 754 S. Wabash. (The club moved to its current location at 700 S. Wabash in 2010). The night I attended Buddy’s residency at Legends, I caught a glimpse of him in the kitchen. He was making something on the flat top grill. After waiting long enough to read “Searching for Buddy Guy” (twice), Buddy took the stage. He said he was suffering from the flu. He seemed desperately ill, but the show went on. I’d seen Buddy perform while under-the-weather once before with similar lackluster results. Still, the out-of-town patrons that night seemed pleased enough with the performance. When it ended, the crowd mobbed the stage for Buddy to sign something, anything, that could absorb Sharpie ink.
As Guy told Rolling Stone magazine in June of 2020, the Covid-imposed suspension of live touring is one of his longest breaks from the concert stage. Currently, Guy plans to resume touring in March, assuming those shows aren’t scuttled over continued concerns about the spread of the virus. As for Buddy Guy’s residency at Legends, we’re going to have to patiently wait for 2022 when Buddy will be 85-years-old.
Marty Weil is the editor of@CHIBLUESHISTORYon Twitter. Marty is a blues researcher, educator, and social media influencer.
“Heart of the Blues” by Joanna Connor
Joanna Connor is a weekly contributor to bBluesNote with her column “Heart of the Blues.” Joannais a Guitar Instructor with At Home Chicago Blues.
“Music from the Great Mother. Mother of human origination, unimaginable exploitation, separation – becoming the diaspora that dreamed. Rhythm of survival, sensuality, spirituality. I am a pale daughter, transplanted, transported, sitting on the banks of the mighty muddy, ghosts and ancient stories all around me. From delta to delta, the music has given shelter, release and relief to all who were scattered” Lyrics from my song ‘Afrisissppi’
The Blues. Truly the mother of all modern American music, even seasoned liberally in classical American music, like that of Aaron Copeland, Gershwin and others. The womb that gave birth to Gospel, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Rock N Roll, and was an influential contributor to the original country music.
That music captivated me, so I moved to Chicago to soak in its essence, to be as close to the people whose legacy and whose gift to the world it was, to ingest as much of the notes as well as the culture that nurtured it and freely passed it on to all of us, to be a student, and ultimately, to give my interpretation of it.
After my years at Blues University as I call it, playing behind numerous artists, I began my own band and my first album came out on the Blind Pig label in 1990. I titled it “Believe It” answering the often asked rhetorical question If a woman could play electric blues guitar. While a rough, raw and rushed production, it nonetheless became a spring board that launched my career internationally.
My first outing was three weeks in Norway, with the Moulin Blues Fest in Ospel, Holland also on the itinerary. I was immediately struck by the enthusiasm, the deep knowledge and the appreciation we were given by the Europeans that flocked to this newcomer’s performances. We were treated as artists, not mere conduits to sell liquid spirits, but were there to lift human spirits and were given reciprocal respect. We usually only played one set at night, at the maximum two, at any club. Dressing rooms were comfortable and well appointed, meals were given that were delicious and were little jaunts into the local culture, alcohol flowed, free of charge, hotel rooms were clean and lovely. While all of this was marvelous, what I recall most was the absolute rapture the audiences at every venue, whether intimate or enormous, displayed willingly and uninhibitedly. We were ambassadors of that music that I felt privileged to play- the Blues, delivered as only an American, in particular, a Chicago band, could deliver. We were all one human family when the lights came on and the guitars hummed and the drums and bass propelled us all on rhythmic journeys. We were united by the sheer emotion, the syncopations, born long ago from the painful intersection of transplanted European and stolen African peoples. The music that came out of this would be the music that brought me, so many generations and so many stories later, to Europe and later to Asia and South America to play it. I played all over the European continent for over a decade straight, several times a year. I performed or opened up for legends. I was Luther Allison’s opening act for nine years. That was a revelation and I will write about that in future articles.
Music is the universal language, a phrase that is now part of our lexicon. This phrase is not just a cliche but is an absolute truth. The Blues is possibly the most universal and fluid of all the musical vocabularies. It’s the honesty of it, it’s lack of pretension, it’s ability to cut straight to your heart, it’s impact felt even if it’s vernacular isn’t totally understood.
When any of us play this music, whether just for pleasure, or for profession, we are all transcending time and culture and circumstance. We are part of the joy and the sorrow, the longing and the love that is the Blues.
Pete’s Pics “Blues in Action” BILLY BOY ARNOLD by Peter M. Hurley
The great pleasure of writing this column, Dear Readers, is the honor of speaking with many of its featured blues artists. Some I’ve known previously and some I take the opportunity to reach out to for the first time. The great BILLY BOY ARNOLD, once a stranger, is no longer. When I asked this Man Of Considerable Taste what it feels like when performing at the highest level he replied “It’s natural to feel a bit nervous before going on but when you’ve got guys like Billy Flynn behind you, you give your best performance. It’s about the ‘best performance’ you can provide.”
Billy Boy Arnold survived and thrived by playing harp on the early electric Chicago blues scene when “all up and down the little small clubs on Madison Street, South side, West side, you could hear that harmonica blasting on the amplifiers.” As one of the few original Chicago-born blues men still in action, Billy Boy continues to bring it on. Listen to Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular! on Delmark where his mentor Sonny Boy Williamson still breathes through Arnold’s Mississippi saxophone.
Billy Boy is known primarily for “I Wish You Would” but there is so, so much more. Check out one of Mr. Arnold’s favorite cds of his own work The Blues Soul Of Billy Boy Arnold w/guitarist and producer Duke Robillard. Go deep by listening to “Wandering Eye” and “Man Of Considerable Taste” from his Alligator Records’ catalog. Go even deeper by listening to my new favorite cd, Checkin’ It Out, recorded with blistering British blues band Tony McPhee and the Groundhogs.
Billy Boy Arnold is one of the post-war blues’ greatest practitioners. His legacy is broad and brilliant. So check out all of his cds a collection of deeply-rooted Chicago Blues records. I can’t wait to see and hear him play live again.
Mr. Hurley is a contributing photographer and writer for Living Blues Magazine and the staff photographer for Chicago Blues Network. His recent book Blues Legacy:Tradition and Innovation in Chicago, in collaboration with Blues historian and author David Whiteis, showcases his work in the field. His passion for blues music began with the Chess Studios’ sound of Bo Diddley and continues to this day. Visit Peter’s Website here.
Blues Podcasts “No Border Blues” Hosted by Johnny Burgin and Stephanie Tice
Take a blues journey with No Border Blues, the only blues podcast focused only on international blues artists and hidden blues scenes around the world. Delmark recording artist Johnny Burgin and producer Stephanie Tice will shine a spotlight on notable international blues performers, discuss the blues scenes in their home countries, and present intimate and exclusive musical performances.
Sponsored by Chicago Blues Network, bringing Chicago Blues to the world.
Watch the latest “No Border Blues” interview with Snooks La Vie in the video below:
“No Border Blues” w/ Johnny Burgin & Stephanie Tice
Adelaide based singer and harp player Snooks La Vie acquired his moniker from a friend and music colleague which started out as just a bit of fun and stuck amongst his peers for being known as an avid fan of New Orleans musician ‘Snooks Eaglin’. Snooks gained national recognition in Australia as the frontman for The Hiptones– an Australian answer to The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The Hiptones signed with Sony Records and won the South Australian Music Award for best blues band/act in 1997. Snooks took home the South Australian Blues Vocalist of the Year in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In more recent years, Snooks made a fine record in a country vein, Another Place in Time, and a country blues record with Australian guitarist Nikko called Way Back Home. Nikko and Snooks competed in the IBCs in Memphis in 2017. Today Snooks still finds the time to collaborate with many artists in Australia, including his partner Courtney Robb.
Featured Song: “Chicago Style” Showcasing Chicago Blues Network Faculty Dave Specter & Brother John Kattke
In a rare duo setting, Dave Specter (Musical Director of Chicago Blues Network, and Guitar Instructor) and Brother John Kattke (Blues Piano Instructor) share the blues Chicago Style. Take a listen!
Dave Specter & Brother John Kattke on At Home Chicago Blues Trading 4s “Chicago Style”
Samples for You to Try “At Home Chicago Blues” Learn Blues Directly from Chicago Blues Masters
Our Faculty Musicians are Chicago Blues Masters who would normally be playing numerous gigs and touring. During these times they are “at home” just like you are…it’s the perfect time to learn Chicago Blues!
Choose from Chicago Blues Masters Dave Specter, Joanna Connor, Billy Flynn, Johnny Burgin, Harlan Terson or Brother John Kattke to start learning with “At Home Chicago Blues”.
Sample Lessons from Instructors: Dave Specter (Guitar) (“Blow Wind Blow”): Watch lesson. Joanna Connor (Guitar) (“Dust My Broom”): Watch lesson. Billy Flynn (Guitar) (“All Your Love I Miss Lovin'”):Watch lesson. Johnny Burgin (Guitar) (“That’s Alright”): Watch lesson. Harlan Terson (Bass) (“Got My Mojo Workin'”):Watch lesson. Brother John Kattke (Piano) (“Key to the Highway”): Watch lesson.