Buddy Guy (Close-Up)
The Blues are Still Alive
“I would have had more butterflies in my stomach if I had been nominated for more than one Grammy,” says blues legend Buddy Guy, sitting at the coffee shop of Mumbai’s ITC Maratha, a mere week before he went on to win the trophy for Best Contemporary Blues Album, for last year’s Living Proof. “That’s when you get exposure on that particular night”¦ you gotta be nominated for atleast 3 or 4. But I’ll take the one. I’m not gonna say I don’t want it,” he laughs, his sprightliness belying his age ”“ Guy is “74 Years Young” as the opening song on Living Proof goes.
The prolific musician who was headlining the first edition of Mahindra Blues (his second visit to India) says he has special love for Living Proof and 2008’s Skin Deep. “On these two albums, I have a lot to do with the writing”¦ I co-wrote it with the producer [and drummer Tom Hambridge],” drawls Guy. “Before that, all the albums I’ve done is like 50 to 70 to 80 per cent of other people’s music. I’ve done songs by BB [King], I’ve done songs by Muddy Waters”¦ I never did explore as Buddy Guy did on his last two albums. So I kinda like those albums because it’s more of a Buddy Guy thing.”
Living Proof is Guy’s 26th studio album and he is going strong as ever. But does he think there are enough youngsters listening to and playing the blues? “We would have a few more listeners if they were playing more blues on the radio or music television stations,” reckons Guy. “Someone my age or BB’s age can make a record and I don’t care how good it is, but it’s not gonna explode on television or radio. You got to have some youngster come up, goodlooking, without a wrinkle, to come play and maybe they can bring it back.” To this end, Guy came across a young guitar prodigy, Quinn Sullivan, three years ago and got him to play on ”˜Who’s Gonna Fill Those Shoes’ from Skin Deep. “I called him to play the solo because I wanted my record company to hear this and I wanted people to see this. Because if he could be that good at seven, and now he’s 10, he’s unbelievable”¦ This kid plays like he’s 50 years old. That’s what we need to keep the blues alive.”