As The Damn Right Blues Band took the stage on a blistering hot Saturday at Maryhill Winery, keyboardist Marty Sammon started the evening with my favorite introduction to the one and only Buddy Guy—and from that moment, it was on. Guy, the ultimate showman, walked on stage with a beaming smile, the crowd jumped to their feet, and wasting no time, he tore into a searing version of “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues.”
Backed by Ric Hall on guitar, Orlando Wright on bass, and Tim Austin on drums, Guy’s guitar playing is just a marvel to watch and hear. He can play as fierce and fast as anyone I’ve ever seen, then effortlessly transition from blistering blues licks to the lightest, most emotional notes you will ever hear from a guitar.
Guy, once a young student of the giants of the blues, has now become the elder statesman of Chicago blues. His sets contain a seemingly endless song catalog featuring his classics as well as some new songs and treasures, such as the night’s marvelous cover of Little Milton’s “Grits Ain’t Groceries” before transitioning to his jukebox session where he paid homage to greats like John Lee Hooker and more. And on this night, he ended that portion of his set with a highly emotional cover of B.B. King’s “Sweet Sixteen,” a song I have not seen him play before and one I will never forget. A fantastic set by a great band, it was all guided by the true blues legend Buddy Guy.
Next up was Jeff Beck—and I’m sure I heard him say, “Oh fuck, I have to follow that.” Beck opened his set with the hard rock of “The Revolution Will Be Televised,” the first track from his 2016 record Loud Hailer, which saw singer Rosie Bones on the megaphone out in the crowd and featured guitar player Carmen Vandenberg, two collaborators on his new album. Along with Jimmy Hall (of Wet Willie) on vocals, Rhonda Smith on bass, Jonathan Joseph on drums, and two newer band members, the lineup allowed Beck to perform one of the most diverse and career-spanning sets I’ve ever heard.
Featuring Bones on new songs and Hall on classics and covers, the band hit their stride with “Morning Dew” and “A Change Is Gonna Come” featuring Hall on vocals. From there, Beck took center stage with instrumentals “Big Block” and the classic “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.” Beck is a marvel to watch and hear, his tone and style are remarkable, and now more than ever, you can hear the influence of Guy and Jimi Hendrix in his playing—the latter of which shined clearly during the performance of “Scared for the Children,” a show-stopping moment with Bones kneeling center stage for a soul-stirring vocal performance. With his new release and this tour, Jeff Beck is clearly not content to rest on his laurels but is reaching new heights of creativity.
With Guy and Beck sharing the stage together, the guitar gods must’ve been smiling as these two are the true masters. Their individual performances were stunning, but for that one moment where they were on stage together, it was pure magic—watching Beck as Guy took the stage with him for their performance of “Five Long Years” was surely worth the price of admission alone. On this final night of their tour together, Beck was visibly emotional as he thanked Guy for touring with him and the inspiration he provided. This venue, the sound, the concert—it was all a home run from start to finish.
Jeff Beck’s Setlist:
The Revolution Will Be Televised
Live in the Dark
Five Long Years (with Buddy Guy)
The Ballad of the Jersey Wives
Lonnie on the Move
You Know You Know
A Change Is Gonna Come
Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers
O.I.L. (Can’t Get Enough of That Sticky)
Shapes of Things
Scared for the Children
Rollin’ and Tumblin’
Little Brown Bird
A Day in the Life
Photos: John Alcala
Source: Vortex Music Magazine