06 July 2023

To Buddy Guy: not "farewell," but "thank you."

Monday, July 3, by a resolution of Portland's city council, was Buddy Guy Day in Portland, Oregon. Most of us at the Waterfront Blues Festival didn't find out until the day was almost over--when the hour came for Buddy Guy's performance at the Festival.

His performance at our festival was billed as Portland's turn at hosting Buddy Guy's Damn Right Farewell Tour. If those 75 minutes were indeed part of a "farewell" series, he is ending his touring career strongly. He stood upright for the full performance, and aside from his blazing guitar work, he was up to his old tricks--playing his guitar with one hand, generating sounds with a drumstick, a towel, even his clothes, all with his trademark look-at-me smile or one finger pointed at the audience. All he left out was his walkabout among audience members. As usual, he rarely played and sang a song from beginning to end, preferring to merge one song into another, as long as it illustrated one of his constant concerns, to give credit to the legacy he felt privileged to carry on as one of the few remaining representatives of the generation that shaped this music.

As he tells Gary Graff in the guitarplayer.com article, he may not be saying an absolute farewell to us, even though he turns 87 this month. He may still play occasional festival, and I selfishly hope that Portland remains on his list. But this farewell tour seems as good an occasion as any to say "thank you."

Buddy Guy, Waterfront Blues Festival 2011.
Elsewhere on my blog I've talked about the music of Buddy Guy and his genre-defining contemporaries, and how important it was to me in my years of growing up in a racist and dysfunctional family atmosphere. The honesty and ecstasy that I heard in my earliest exposure to those musicians still came through to me in this year's festival, and for that I will be forever and unapologetically thankful.

Thank you, Buddy Guy, for the more than fifty years I've personally enjoyed your music, starting with your collaboration with Junior Wells. And thank you for helping me remember where and how this music came to be.

Some related posts:

Love me, love my music

Heart and ass

Not about US politics (including the first time I heard Buddy Guy play)

Two books, two lives (George F. Kennan and Buddy Guy)

Odessa Blues

I'm on the road and need to post this, so just one link this week, from Mark Pratt-Russum with thoughts from our recent Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends annual sessions.

The cunning nature of Screwtape speaks to the twisted ways in which evil squirms into our lives, presenting as love, or service, but which actually has, at its root, some kind of self-fulfillment that requires the exploitation of another person’s labor, resources, culture, or humanity.

Here are some glimpses of this year's Waterfront Blues Festival. (All photos, whether good or fuzzy, are mine.)

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