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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Buddy Guy

Tonight @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, Summerfest, 9:30 p.m.

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Any credible list of the greatest guitar players of the last 25 years would include nine people who were influenced by Buddy Guy and one man who is Buddy Guy. Many of the former, including Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton, sought out the later for collaboration. And why shouldn’t they? Guy was their father. He invented the modern day blues-rock axeman. From his revved-up solos that seamlessly appropriated rock into the context of a blues song, it was only a short leap to Derrick and the Dominos and Led Zeppelin.

With all of the attention paid to his more high voltage work, it can be very easy to overlook how talented a pure bluesman Guy can be. In his acoustic blues, he can elicit a tear with every finger pick. In fact, his best records came from his quietist period, with Chess records in the 1960s. But no one comes to the shows to hear the repertoire. They come to see the man who pioneered the onstage theatrics later attributed to Jimi Hendrix pluck a guitar with anything readily available. They come to hear jaw-dropping solos from a man who can, and frequently has, found jaw-dropping solos in “Mary had a Little Lamb.” Guy rarely fails to deliver.

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