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With a Smile the Whole While

Buddy Guy As a first-timer to a Buddy Guy concert, I was highly excited to witness a performance by a Legend in an intimate setting. To say the least, I was not disappointed. My newfound appreciation for Mr. Guy makes me wonder what took so long to see him live in the first place.

Buddy Guy thrilled the crowd at Harrah's Voodoo Lounge on Thursday night in a sold out theater. The 5-time Grammy Award winner kept the audience moving, singing and cheering for a full 90-minute set that was preceded by a surprisingly entertaining opening act.

Tom Hambridge led off the night with a most sparse set, but brought forth magnum down-home songwriting. With only a solitary snare drum at his waist and an organist by his side, Hambridge, an award winning producer, singer, songwriter and drummer mixed playful drumstick work on good-natured songs (even using the stage, props and equipment as instruments on which to play) alongside emotional tracks such as "Nineteen", a song that follows the journey of a star high-school athlete who passes up a university scholarship to enlist in the armed forces to fight for his country. This song especially brought the spectators to their feet in proud gratitude. I was moved. So were many in the room that night. Hambridge's songs have been recorded by musical greats from George Thorogood, and Lynyrd Skynyrd to Delbert McClinton and Susan Tedeschi.

Those of you who have been fortunate enough to experience Buddy Guy in concert can witness to his big, broad and contagious smile. That smile never left his face the entire concert. The set ranged from his classic rockin' blues works to some great Buddy-stylized renditions of Cream's "Strange Brew", and Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child", in addition to snippets from Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Guy demonstrated his mastery of the guitar by playing behind his back, between his legs and with his teeth without missing a note - an influence that became a popular trick of Hendrix. Guys dynamic sound ranged from barely audible, eyebrow lifting guitar-whispers to outright brow-furling screams and meaty riffs with the driving force of a locomotive. Possibly this reviewer's favorite song of the night had the fans singing along to the title track of his new album, "Skin Deep". The highlight for many admirers was when Guy disappeared behind the stage then suddenly materialized within the mass of devotees. He worked his way around most of the venue, even taking a detour behind the bar, playing and singing non-stop.

Do yourself a favor. Catch a Buddy Guy concert. Whenever. Wherever. Just go. You will thank the Almighty you witnessed greatness in person.


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