All right, so I didn't mention The Blues Brothers in my last post about movies set in Chicago...let's see if I can save face and make amends. I am all about atonement.
Chicago is an outstanding city to see music. There are tons of great local bands, in fact Stagg's best friends he grew up with, in Catholic boys school (how hot is that?) have a band called Dolt 45...and we saw them one night in a strange Czech bar with three other punk bands. They pound! The evening was a lot of fun for me partly because it was the first time I met his ol school buddies, and I felt like they were really kindred spirits and that was such a good feeling to feel like I fit in with people who are a little like an extended family.
Last night Stagg and I went to Buddy Guy's Legends. Any discussion of Buddy Guy invariably involves a recitation of his colossal musical resume and hard-earned accolades. He's a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a chief guitar influence to rock titans like Hendrix, Clapton, Beck and Vaughan, a pioneer of Chicago's fabled West Side sound, and a living link to that city's halcyon days of electric blues.
But Guy's incredible story actually begins in Louisiana, not Chicago. Born in 1936 to a sharecropper's family and raised on a plantation near the small town of Lettsworth, located some 140 miles northwest of New Orleans, George "Buddy" Guy was one of five children born to Sam and Isabel Guy. His earliest years were marked by the all-too-familiar characteristics of the Jim Crow South: separate seating on public buses, whites-only drinking fountains, and restaurants where blacks—if even served at all—were sent around back. But the social order of the day notwithstanding, it was tolerance, not bitterness, instilled in the young Buddy Guy.
One of the things I like about the bar, Buddy Guy's Legends , is that it doesn't feel touristy. The club is a typical black walls, comfy chairs and lots of tables set up from the stage on back to two bars. There is memorablilia everywhere. Guitar lovers could spend an hour or two just looking at the first wives of Lennie Brooks and Eric Clapton, among framed gold records, vintage ensembles of blues performers...but without the corporate feel of Hard Rock Cafe.
And the food is great. We had cajun wings with blue cheese dip, deep fried okra and mustard sauce, chicken fried steak with collard greens, cole slaw and gravy, Staggs stacked with garlic mashed potatoes and even more white gravy. White gravy is usually a sausage based milk sauce and so good! South of Fargo, almost any where in America you will find a variation of biscuits and gravy as a staple on a menu. At Buddy Guy's we are talking food. The kitchen must use condors to make their wings, and corn bread, deep black chocolate cake with kahlua, and pecan pie made with bourbon. We were camping out for the night.
The opening act was Diamond Jim Green, who told several stories and sang a lovely warm mixture of tunes he's collected. One song was "my girlfriends got a girlfriend"...ending with, "my girlfriends got a girlfriend and just found out her little girlfriends got a boyfriend too". A real crowd pleaser. I could see three amazing guitars, one a wood and metal dobro, another a twleve string, and he sang just simple and micced...but a full sound.
Next a local band kicked into a rockabilly feel for two songs before their singer came on stage. Blues Angels had a pedestrian sounding band name, but turned out to be really fun and tight. Lots of energy. The guy who plyed stand up bass turned out to have gone to art school with Stagg, so they said hey after the show. Well, take a listen to them here.
Headlining the evening was Guitar Shorty. Guitar Shorty grew up in Florida and Texas. After playing with Ray Charles for a year, he moved around to Canada and eventually Seattle where he met his wife, Marcia. Marcia Hendrix. He met her family which included her brother. That's right, Guitar shorty taught some shit to Jimi Hendrix!!!! Guitar Shorty's band were so tight I couldn't believe, talking to them after the show, they had just met a month ago. Guitar Shorty made some beautiful sounds just really incredible to believe.
I don't see as much live music as I used to. But it's been a pretty good year. Concert highlights include Lucinda Williams (in Nashville with Stagg, Tuffy P and Mister Anchovy, at the Ryman Theatre, music buffs will know that is the original Grand Ol' Opry). Williams had a suberb goth-a-billy band backing her...which, I can not remember the name of right now, sorry guys. It was a year ago, and so very close on the edge of the floods in New Orleans where Williams and her family hail. so she was very senstive to the times and in a delicate story telling mood, raising awareness of the circumstances of families outside New Orleans as well as the city.
Gwen Steffani, a really fun night. She had a great set of costumes and dancers and was a lot of fun. There were masses of ten year old girls and this was a source of entertainment itself as I have never been to a concert where little kids were a large part of the audience. This was also funny, because Steffani swears liek a pirate. Ha ha silly parents you didn't know she had punk roots with sublime, did ya?
Audioslave in October was the concert of concerts though. I was a diehard Soundgarden fan, saw them in 1989. Which now sounds like a century ago. Yikes. I LOVE Chris Cornell, he is among my top ten list of all time greatest rock singers. Tom Morello is a god. Rage was THE band although so short lived. This show was like seeing three bands in one. This might be among best concerts ever in a lifetime.
GWAR is always a good time. I've seen them about 5 or 6 times. Paid my dues with the red paint. This was a fun night last December, and I got a pair of GWAR underwear. How cool is that?
(and Madonna in June!!!)
I have mentioned the House of Blues here before and how surprised I was that I really really liked the venue. Dan Ackroyd did a great job and the place always has amazing acts. Apparently, they take really good care of their touring musicians as well...and that is an added bonus to know. Maceo Parker ranks as one of the greatest shows I've seen and if you ever have a chance, you must go see The Architect of Funk. We danced for the entire three hours he was on stage.
I've had a pretty good year.
If you are reading this...go and see some live music. It's become an act of rebellion!
Jake: First you traded the Cadillac in for a microphone. Then you lied to me about the band. And now you're gonna put me right back in the joint!
Elwood: They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God.
Elwood Blues:You may go if you wish. But remember this: walk away now and you walk away from your crafts, your skills, your vocations; leaving the next generation with nothing but recycled, digitally-sampled techno-grooves, quasi-synth rhythms, pseudo-songs of violence-laden gangsta-rap, acid pop, and simpering, saccharine, soulless slush. Depart now and you forever separate yourselves from the vital American legacies of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, Memphis Slim, Blind Boy Fuller, Louie Jordon, Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonnyboy Williamson I and II, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Elvis Presley, Lieber and Stoller, and Robert K. Weiss.
Are you the police?
No, ma'am. We're musicians.