Review and photo’s by Patrick Dunn
Buddy Guy – Damn Right Farewell Tour
Doing a Farewell Tour has become somewhat common over the past handful of years, so I think it’s fair to say they don’t necessarily all belong in the same conversation. It’s not that an artist or band shouldn’t recognize the end of a chapter or wrapping it up altogether, however there are obviously different levels of achievement, historic significance and overall impact that position some goodbyes to simply carry more weight. The DAMN RIGHT FAREWELL TOUR that’s now underway is Buddy Guy’s victory lap, which damn well better capture the attention of blues fans, guitar fans and anyone who can recognize how special an opportunity this is to be in the presence of a true American treasure.
Guy’s stop in Minnesota on April 27th produced one heck of an installment on this historic outing at the perfectly suited Mystic Showroom, which is a fantastic performance venue located within the Mystic Lake Casino. The room really served this capacity crowd well with great sightlines throughout plus video screens, state of the art stage lighting and the most important component of sound was perfectly dialed in at a level that was rockin’ yet remained at a consistent and comfortable level from start to finish.
The early Chicago blues scene was memorialized on a large backdrop that included classic cars and vintage marquees from some of the foundational venues of that time, also including Buddy’s modern day Legends club. Guy’s name of course was the primary focal point, spelled out in large letters that were intermittently illuminated in neon pink.
The audience rose to their feet with excitement as Guy made his way to the front of the stage while energetically ripping through some opening solo riffs, immediately letting it be known that he’s still a force to be reckoned with on the guitar. Guy’s voice was also strong as he belted out a phrase that over the years has developed into his calling card, you’re Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues. From pelvic thrusts to screaming out high notes, he was a master at capitalizing on the songs every nuance to effectively connect with his audience.
Buddy’s personality is the show’s core driver and while he may be singing the blues, the message he delivered was packed full of positivity and joy. Even his carefree tendency to inject a few curse words into his frequent conversation was good natured and frankly kind of charming. Make no mistake, his mission clearly was to celebrate this music that appears to have defined his very existence and it was fun to see his playful nature on display right out of the gates during I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man as he flipped his signature Stratocaster around against his body to scratch out the essential accented notes that complete the call and answer pattern which makes up the songs iconic riff.
It was evident that Guy was orchestrating the show based on how he was feeling in the moment. He masterfully read what was working and had a keen sense of where to spend more time to produce the highest level of entertainment value. He also effectively showed off what his talented band had to offer, spreading around opportunities to shine such as the fantastic organ solo during I Just Want to Make Love to You and a spotlight solo section for longtime contributor on guitar, Ric ‘Jaz’ Hall.
Some of Guy’s standout guitar moments included a smoldering dose of slow blues leading into How Blue Can You Get in contrast to his most ambitious effort throughout Grits Ain’t Groceries, where he incorporated some of his trademark moves like playing the riff from Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love with a drum stick. My favorite part of the show began with Guy reminiscing a bit about the conditions he experienced growing up without running water or electricity on a farm in Louisiana. One conversation he had with his mother in the early days stuck with him and ended up being the inspiration behind Skin Deep. Not only was it the most heartfelt selection of the set, it also offered the perfect space for Guy to deliver his most dynamic vocal performance.
So how do you close a show of this caliber and in this case wrap up with a different group of fans each night what has been nothing short of a truly amazing and historic career? In true Buddy Guy fashion, he took a final walk among his audience of supporters, getting up close and personal in a most genuine fashion while playing his guitar to Someone Else is Steppin’ In.
Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues
I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man
She’s Nineteen Years Old
I Just Want to Make Love to You
How Blue Can You Get?
Grits Ain’t Groceries
Take Me to the River
Someone Else is Steppin’ In