A MUSIC ICON, WHO INFLUENCED GUITARISTS AND SONGWRITERS FROM JIMI HENDRIX TO ERIC CLAPTON, BRINGS HIS MIGHTY AXE TO THE GARDEN STATE
BY JON DOMENICK • PHOTO BY PAUL NATKIN
Much like the title of his current album, bluesman George “Buddy” Guy, now in his 80s, proves The Blues Is Alive and Well. With his distinctive guitar and vocal style, Guy has been revered and emulated by the likes of Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Mark Knopfler, and the late Jimi Hendrix.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member is currently on national tour, bringing his unique brand of fiery showmanship to The Count Basie Center for the Arts (June 18), followed by shows in Westbury, NY (June 19), the Ocean City Music Pier (June 24), Sony Hall in Manhattan (June 26 and 27), and the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown (June 28).
Born in Louisiana, Guy has recorded 18 albums and attracts fans of all ages, his first hit “The First Time I Met the Blues” in 1960. As he explained, “I’m always trying to make an album that someone accidentally plays…where some kid hears it, picks up a guitar, and helps keep the blues alive.”
Audiences and fame grew as Guy toured Europe throughout the 1970s, but a real breakthrough came in 1991 with the release of the album Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues. Clapton and B.B. King inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, followed by a rousing performance from the tuxedo clad trio. Guy later commented to Rolling Stone that the induction was “better late than never. It was a surprise, and I’m very proud. I don’t have words to express how I feel about it.”
Guy nabbed a 2016 Grammy for Best Blues Album for Born to Play Guitar, the same year he joined fellow virtuoso Jeff Beck on his U.S. tour. He closed Manhattan’s B.B. King’s Blues Club last April in a sold out performance, and guested on David Letterman’s Netflix talk show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. In 2012, he famously urged President Barack Obama to join him, Mick Jagger, and the late King onstage at the White House for a rendition of “Sweet Home Chicago.”
Joining Guy on tour is the chart topping Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, led by Wayne, a fellow guitarist and songsmith.
Given the Basie’s location amidst the homes and favored performance venues of other boldface rock and roll legends, who knows who might show up for this one night only treat?
Count Basie Center For The Arts
99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank 732.842.9000 / thebasie.org