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Good Guy Wears Blue

[whitespace] Buddy Guy Axe and You Shall Receive: Legendary guitartist Buddy Guy headlines Sunday's SC Blues Festival.

Gary Spector


Blues great headlines Santa Cruz fest

By Nicky Baxter

There'll be no shortage of blues and R&B power at the sixth-annual Santa Cruz Blues Festival this weekend in Aptos. As in past years, the event showcases two days of serious party music. The performers include blues-rocker Coco Montoya, Southern-style soul man W.C. Clark, funk-rockers the Boneshakers and roots-rock and blues swingers Roomful of Blues.

New Orleans favorites the Neville Brothers headline the first day, while Buddy Guy closes the second. A true legend in his own time, Guy is this critic's choice as the festival's showstopper.

Guy is the personification of Chicago blues. In the late 1950s, he migrated from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Windy City. There he was befriended by Muddy Waters, who paved the way for the guitarist's entry into the city's thriving blues scene. By the early 1960s, he had performed with a number of blues royalty, most notably Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and Koko Taylor.

Whether he's strumming and humming acoustic blues with his longtime blues brother Junior Wells (who passed away earlier this year), hopping onstage to instruct pop superstar/student Eric Clapton with a lick or two, or jamming with local blues acolytes in his Chicago club, Buddy Guy has never done anything halfway.

A volatile cross between blues' ruling eccentric, John Lee Hooker, and a hypermanic B.B. King, Guy is double (make that treble) trouble as a guitarist. He is also a flamboyant--at times bordering on hammy--performer, but in a naive, "Look, ma! one hand" way. His concerts are not unlike a high-wire circus act--you don't know if he's going to make it or fall flat on his face. But not knowing is part of the thrill.

The excitement is not only visual. Albums like Stone Crazy successfully capture the frenzy of his live performances. As Good As It Gets, his newest release, is as good a description of the man's music as any.


The Santa Cruz Blues Festival features the Neville Brothers, Roomful of Blues, the Boneshakers and Candye Kane on Saturday (May 23). Buddy Guy, Coco Montoya, W.C. Clark, the Lloyd Jones Struggle and Angela Strehli with Terry Hanck and the Soul Rockers perform Sunday. The festival starts at 11am both days at Aptos Village Park. Admission is $25 per day for adults, $15 for children 6-12. Two-day passes cost $40/$35. Call Blues Fest hotline at 479-9814 for details. Tickets also are available through BASS.

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From the May 21-27, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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