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Buddy Guy at Davies Symphony Hall

Last night the legendary Buddy Guy played Davies Symphony Hall as part of the SF Jazz summer series. Born in Louisiana, he moved to Chicago in 1957 and became a staff guitarist for Chess Records, playing on recordings with Junior Wells, Muddy Waters, Howling' Wolf, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Koko Taylor. As an architecht of the second generation of Chicago electric blues guitar style, he is, along with B.B. King, the most influential guitarist to all blues and rock guitar players. (Albert and Freddie King must of course also be mentioned.) While obscure in the US until the early 90's, he influenced Mike Bloomfield, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton (The Cream was Clapton's idea based on the powerful Buddy Guy Trio) Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, to name a few. With complete command of all blues idioms, he can sweep from rural delta blues to psychedelic wail in seconds. Dynamics is often missing even in great players, but Buddy delights in a wide pallet, from a whisper to a roar, and back again. His vocals are always intense, and riveting. At 79, he is the most supple being at that age I have ever seen. (Even Ravi Shankar would get a little stiffer physically each year, though it never affected his playing). Toward the end of the set he walked around the auditorium, and as he came within a few feet of me, playing screaming guitar, I realized how light his right hand attack was - the massive amps doing the heavy lifting. "Buddy Guy is by far and without a doubt the best guitar player alive. " — Eric Clapton