Billy Branch and Buddy Guy --- January 6, 2019 ---- Legends Chicago
I have never seen Billy Branch play such a choreographed set before. He clearly knew what he wanted to share and did an excellent job. He showed a great example of how he is the greatest living blues harp player.
Branch's singing is solid, but his harp playing is simply extraordinary. He did a very nice rendition of Junior Wells' Hoodoo Man Blues (which Buddy Guy was also an important part of the original).
Billy Branch moved the pace along with uptempo number after uptempo number. At one point he spoke of slowing the music down, joking no doubt, as a rapid beat immediately followed.
Billy Branch and his friend Lurrie Bell are the class acts of their generation of musicians, following the greats such as Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and Magic Sam.
With a solid band backing him, Billy Branch is a joy to listen to. He shows his harp technique in many ways, playing a "lead harp" magnificently.
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Buddy Guy was many things for me this evening. I hadn't seen him play in a long time. When I first saw him, he looked a little gaunt and old. As he played more and more, this image changed.
When he was playing seriously, he showed his incredible talent.
Buddy Guy has been a star at least since his Cobra Records recordings of 1958.
Buddy Guy teased his audience though. His profound and deep playing contrasted with his screeching, meaningless (to me) riffs.
His wonderful, wonderful music came along with his profane talk, frequently disclaiming the lyrics of songs he had just sung saying: "I didn't write this". He was "Mr. Sexy" with his swiveling hips and emphasis on the double entendres and the "sex" in the music. He is a master b.s.-er.
A surprise guest performer was the noted British singer/actress Joss Stone.
They did a great job of ad libbing together on the song Fever with a lot of great humor and insight..
All in all it was an incredible performance by Billy Branch and an interesting and contrasting performance of Buddy Guy. When performing he hardly looks his age, except in how he takes breaks between his solos. He has lots of tricks with his guitar. He can be soothing, sweet, and powerfully dynamic. Unfortunately he can also be a stereotype - screeching away and b.s.ing too much, countering some of the insightful things he says.
It was a wonderful evening!!!!
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