[Slowhand] Buddy Guy Interview

John Mills turbineltd at btconnect.com
Mon Sep 15 06:23:03 EDT 2008


At 72, musician Buddy Guy still has a job to do
Published Saturday September 13th, 2008

Buddy Guy showed why he is a living legend last night during his performance
at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.

Buddy's got the Blues: Buddy Guy tore the house down last night in his debut
performance at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. Guy, who was born in
Lettsworth, Louisiana in 1936, recently released a new album of blues called
Skin Deep that features collaborations with artists like fellow Harvest
performers Derek Trucks and Robert Randolph, and Eric Clapton.
Guy recently released an album of new songs called Skin Deep.

Reporter Adam Bowie caught up with Guy before the show and discussed his new
album, life on the road, and how much he still enjoys performing.
Q: How do you feel about performing these days? Do you still enjoy it as
much as ever?
A: Yes, I do. Let's put it like this, when all the great guys were still
alive, it was always a learning experience, and it was enjoyable too,
because it was like going to school. It was like, "Oh wow, man, I wish I
could be like you." And now, you go to sleep and wake up and they're not
here, and there's only a couple of us now, man. If you had of interviewed me
20 years ago, I would have said there's a handful of us left, but now you
look around, man, and so many have left us. I just got a job to do and I'm
just trying to enjoy it because the way they treat blues, man, with airplay
and exposure on television, you just have to take it to people.
Q: When you're touring you have so many local acts open for you. Is it
interesting to see what these guys are doing?
A: Yes, especially the young people because the young people is the ones who
carry on, you know. Traditionally, blues is played in blues clubs and a lot
of those are disappearing now. It's like an endangered species too, with the
new laws like the DUI and the non-smoking. A lot of the blues clubs is gone
and I got one in Chicago and I'm just trying to at least make that survive
because when Eric Clapton and myself, The Beatles and everybody else
started, we had places to play. Smaller places led to bigger places, and
that don't exist no more"¦ If you turn on your television now, man, if you
ain't young and good lookin', you ain't going to get anything. I don't care
how good your record is.
Q: People know you for your amazing live performances. You've got the new
song called Who's Gonna Fill Those Shoes? and I was wondering if there are
days when it's hard to fill your own shoes.
A: Well, you know I'm a human being, man, and you look at a basketball
player, football player, baseball player and if they not feelin' well, they
can take it off. But if a person like me - I remember once before the late
Junior Wells passed, he had a fever and we was doing some dates for the
homeless and Junior had the chills and they said, "Let's send Buddy." A week
later I had it, and he was okay, and I called up and they said, "Well, we'll
send you a limo and a blanket." My mother used to tell me this when I was a
child, she said, "You don't want to be a man, because you have to go when
you don't want to go." So that's the way I look at it, but I have good
nights and bad nights. Of course I have nights where I'm sayin', "Now Buddy,
these people have showed up to see you and you ain't 100 per cent. You got a
cold, your voice is kind of choked up on you," and I have to look at it and
say, "Give me a glass of wine, I got to go."
Q: I've seen the footage of you throwing guitars in the air and playing
guitar with your teeth. How have things changed through the years?
A: I'll probably hit a few (chords) with the few teeth that's left, but if I
throw it up now, you know that my eyesight can't see it like it used to"¦
You can't be 72 years old and do the things you did at 22 even though some
people ask you to do that"¦ The older you get, your voice changes and
everything changes. Your knee hurts. I'm sitting up here with half a shoe on
now because of what they call gout. You don't get that at no 22 or 27 years
old. You can jump off a mountain at that age.
Q: Have your feelings about any of your songs changed over the years? Is
there anything different from when you played Hoochie Coochie Man in 1970 to
A: No, that hasn't changed"¦ When people come see Buddy Guy, I still have to
go out there and try to keep Muddy Waters' name alive. Nobody can do Hoochie
Coochie Man like Muddy Waters, and nobody can do Little Walter, nobody can
do T-Bone Walker, but I will go out there and try so people can say, "Wow.
What's that?" The impressions on young people - maybe they'll go to a record
store and remember Buddy Guy mentioned this name and want to see what it
sounds like. All these guys taught me everything I know, man, and I'm just
trying to say to people, don't let that music die.
Q: Guys like Eric Clapton and Keith Richards mention you as being one of
their musical heroes. Was it hard for you and guys like Hooker, Albert King,
and Muddy to see these British guys having so much success playing the music
created by American bluesmen?
A: No, because they did more for us than any record company that ever was.
Without them, I don't know if you'd be interviewing me now. They came in the
early '60s and they was calling it the British Invasion and the Stones and
Eric and all of them said, "This is no British Invasion. This is something
you've got you just didn't know you had."
Because people were trying to get The Rolling Stones to do a television
show, called Shin Dig, and they agreed to do the show if they would bring on
Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters and (the producers) said, "Who the hell is
Muddy Waters?" and Mick Jagger got upset.
Q: This new album is the first release that you've written at least a part
of every song. Did you enjoy bringing some friends in to work on it?
A: Of course, man. I went down to Nashville and they said, "I don't know
Buddy." And I said, "Please give me a chance, man." I've had great reviews
on the record so far, but I don't think I get much airplay. Maybe I should
say something like the hip-hop (artists). If I curse a bit and call somebody
dirty names, I'd probably get some airplay.
Q: Are you looking forward to coming to this area of Canada again?
A: Whenever I'm invited back to Canada, my arms are wide open.

Adam Bowie is a reporter with The Daily Gleaner. He can be reached at
bowie.adam at dailygleaner.com. Q&A appears every Saturday.

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