Buddy Guy at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit, MI

Buddy Guy brings his legendary Chicago blues to the mighty Motor City for a musical a night of musical memories that will last you a lifetime. 

It’s a bustling Thursday night in Motown and the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts has opened their doors early for this evening‘s event to accommodate the thousands of blues fans who have traveled from across the state. Lines run deep and far from the box office and nearly circle the building as a diverse crowd of both young and old anxiously wait to take their seat for tonight‘s most moment: an intimate evening with the Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy. It’s been two years since Buddy was last in the Motor City as a result of our pandemic conditions, and these fans have traveled from as far as the upper peninsula to make this evening a reality. 

It’s now 9:05 PM, stage lights grow dim and shadowy figures can be seen moving across the stage. Out of the darkness emerges an unmistakable black and white polka-dotted shirt… simultaneously the stage lights ignite and the band fires into the beginning of “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues.” And there… right there… center stage, clutching a vintage Fender Stratocaster and grinning from ear to ear is the living legend, Chicago blues master and blues elder George “Buddy“ Guy.

Wasting no time, this blues Jedi goes to work on that beat-up old Stratocaster, ringing the first notes out of that fretboard as the fans roar to life, giving him a standing ovation. He approaches the microphone, soaking up the audience’s energy, and cracks a mischievous smile before belting out the first line, “You damn right I’ve got the blues… From my head down to my shoes.“ The crowd continues their roaring ovation.

Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” comes up next, and Buddy walks right out to the edge of the stage, staring into the front row. He twangs out that intro riff, plucking hard with his fingers and letting the note sustain with a grin. A gentleman in the front row yells, “Ooooooo weeeee… Mama says that’s stanky!“ Buddy pauses to shoot him a smile and rolls right back into the classic. 

A smoking cover of Muddy Waters’ “She’s Nineteen Years Old” is next and we see second guitarist Ric “Jaz” Hall step up into the spotlight and lay down a guitar solo that made you almost hear the voice of Muddy Waters himself say “Damn Son!“ “I Just Want to Make Love to You” by Willie Dixon rolls out next and the audience joins in to sing along with the chorus. “Skin Deep,” and “Dirty Mother Fuyer” (by Billy Boy Arnold) are followed by an ode to Buddy’s close friend B.B. King with a tasty rendition of King’s track “Downhearted (aka How Blue Can You Get.)” “Downhearted” comes down to the last note, and before Buddy can deliver the last lyrics to the song, a man up front/near the mic, yells out “How blue can you get!” Buddy looks out into the audience and says “Thank you for that sir!” The crowd explodes with laughter at Buddy’s quick-witted response.

The band slides through the Lindsey/Alexander cover “Mona Lisa Was a Man” and “Take Me to the River” by Al Green, and Buddy occasionally pauses to smile as his audience shouts out “We love you, Buddy!” This phenomenon happens throughout the night, between every song! Buddy mentions Detroit having many great bluesmen over the years and proceeds to spank out a growling version of John Lee Hooker‘s “Boom Boom.“ The drummer of legends Tony Hambridge, keyboardist Marty Sammon and bassist Orlando Wright keep that infectious groove tight and deep in the pocket throughout the entire evening.

Buddy shouts out, “I’ll play the blues all night long if y’all will let me!“ The audience gives him the fourth standing ovation of the night, and he proceeds to deliver! The night runs into overtime with more classics like the Denise LaSalle tune “Someone Else Is Stepping In,“ a few Eric Clapton teasers, snippets and smiles, the Albert King great “Drowning on Dry Land,“ and even some Slim Harpo, “I’m a King Bee.“

In between songs, Buddy shares plenty of amusing commentaries and memories, engaging his audience frequently with the masterful storytelling skills of a true entertainer. Not to spoil the surprise but you just may (ooooorrrrr may not) find yourself face-to-face with a legend if this 85-year-old Chicago Bluesman decides to go on the prowl… (go get a ticket, and see what this cryptic message could mean!)

Buddy Guy comes as a recommended concert experience that should be on everyone’s life performance bucket list. His tones, his moans, and those licks that come from those Louisiana bones will brighten the darkest night and shine rays of light over this younger generation that is in desperate need of a blues revival. It doesn’t matter what your musical tastes are, or what walk of life you choose to stroll in… Anyone that sits down in front of a Buddy Guy live performance is guaranteed to smile at this man’s passion, his talent, and his humble charismatic presence which is the true essence of Chicago blues.
Catch Buddy Guy on tour now, and also check out his new release The Blues Chase The Blues Away, a powerful documentary/biography that digs deep into the blues legends and provides some candid insights into his upbringing. Concert dates and details on how to order this are available on his official website. And while you’re there, pick up a copy of his latest release The Blues Is Alive And Well: 16 tracks of pure blues fire that is sure to warm your soul.
About Jay Dunbar 54 Articles
Jay Dunbar is a professional photographer that enjoys wearing a multitude of hats. He is active in the commercial and stock photography arenas and currently owns and operates a Detroit based investigations firm and photography agency. Despite his many endeavors, Jay can frequently be found in attendance at your favorite concert venues, capturing breathtaking images of live performances of many genres of music. A skilled author and photographer, he could be described as a " Serial Music Journalist." Carrying the photo bug for nearly thirty years, Jay enjoys all styles of photography, testing new gear, and helping aspiring photographers, artists and models to develop their skills and learn their craft.