An era is ending. Blues singer and guitarist Buddy Guy, who will turn eighty-eight this year, announced last year that he is retiring from touring. He posted his farewell tour on his website.
Fortunately for those of us in his hometown of Chicago, Buddy booked performances three nights a week during January at his club "Buddy Guy's Legends." For years, fans have anticipated this annual January residency and the chance to see the legendary bluesman in a small club setting. Each night, the show features a different warmup artist.
I purchased tickets for the January 12 show primarily because Bobby Rush was the scheduled opening act. I have long been a fan of Bobby's 1971 song "Chicken Heads," and the 90-year-old Rush has been performing even longer than Mr. Guy. Rush delivered a decent set. He talked a little too much, sang a little too little, flirted with the ladies in the front row, and finished with "Chicken Heads," adding some improvised verses. Although underwhelming, he set the mood nicely for the main act.
Buddy opened his set with "Damn Right I've Got the Blues" - an energetic song that rocked the house. For much of the evening, he paid tribute to many of the blues legends with covers of songs by Muddy Waters ("Hoochie Coochie Man"), John Lee Hooker ("Boom Boom"), Al Green ("Take Me to the River"), and Slim Harpo ("I'm a King Bee"). Buddy is one of the last of a generation of great bluesmen. He no longer has the stamina of his youth (his set lasted a little over an hour), but he brought great energy during his performance. Between songs, he expressed his appreciation for the crowd, his love of the blues, and his fondness for Chicago.
Near the end of Guy's set, Bobby Rush joined him on stage for an encore duet of "Chicken Heads," which delighted the audience.
I was thrilled to see Buddy Guy for the fourth time. His retirement announcement and his advanced years will limit his future performances. He has not yet indicated whether he will continue performing at "Legends." If this was my final time, it was a fitting finale.