Wednesday, April 5
King Center,Melbourne, FL
Wednesday night in Melbourne, and the King Center is packed. It’s a night to see living legends, and there a more than a few on hand.
Stephen Stills, along with guitar wizard Kenny Wayne Shepard, and from the seminal Electric Flag, keyboardist Barry Goldberg, are the core line up of The Rides. They came on and performed a scintilating set of coarse edged blues electric blues. Performing songs from their two CD’s, t hey seemed invegorated and played as if they were having the time of their lives. “Can’t Get Enough,” and a taut reading of Muddy Waters “Honey Bee,” were show highlights. Stills and Shepard guitar playing complement each others soloing. Their back and forth is a pushing and prodding, and not an attempt at one upping the other.
Closing number “Love the One Your With” churned a little slower, but still delivered with urgency. The band returned for an encore of the iconic number “For What it’s Worth,” from Still’s time with the Buffalo Springfield. Once more the songs delivery had evolved, but felt contemporary nonetheless.
The Rides are a great gift. Mixed generations of artists, not merely perfunctory curators of older music bandied out for the sake of nostalgia. They are compelling and forward looking.
The Damn Right Blues Band was in place on stage when the keyboardist introduced him, “Please put your hands together for seven time Grammy award winner and Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Mr. Buddy Guy.” The reaction was overwhelming.
Buddy Guy soloed and sang, told stories and chided the audience for not singing loud enough. Now in his eighties, he seemed almost surprised at times how far the blues had taken him. His version of “Fever” was tightly drawn and built tension with even the slightest rise in dynamics. He played parts of songs after relating stories of his friendship with the songwriters, like John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” There was a startlingly intimate moment when he he explained his fondness for polka dots. “I told my momma I was gonna buy her a polka dot Cadillac when I made it. I left for Chicago and she never got to see me play before she passed away. The polka dots are a symbol of the promise I made her.”
Not just a lion in winter, Buddy Guy is one of the sole remaining ties to the original Delta blues men responsible for so much of the soundtrack of the last century. A living treasure you need to see now before you miss your chance, and it’s a much less interesting story to tell.