Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

Buddy Guy at the 2015 Waterfront Blues Festival / Photo by Anthony Piidgeon
Buddy Guy at the 2015 Waterfront Blues Festival / Photo by Anthony Piidgeon

Buddy Guy: Waterfront Blues Festival OMN Encore / Buddy (F&*cking) Guy: On the night he tore up the 2011 festival

By Alaya Wyndham // Buddy Guy is one of the headliners at the 2023 Waterfront Blues Festival. He tore up the 2011 festival and OMN’s Alaya Wyndham was there to document it. See him close the festival on Monday, July  at 9pm on the South Stage. Her story in OMN on the Fourth of July 2011.

Buddy Guy is one of the headliners at the 2023 Waterfront Blues Festival. He tore up the 2011 festival and OMN’s Alaya Wyndham was there to document it. See him close the festival on Monday, July  at 9pm on the South Stage. Her story in OMN on the Fourth of July 2011.

He also played the festival in 2015 at a time when OMN was publishing a print version of the magazine in addition  to the online version. We re-ran Alaya's 2011 story then and we're doing it again.

The headline on the cover of that print issue read, " Buddy (F&*cking) Guy: Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival 2015 -- on the night he tore up the 2011 festival."

Immediately below is a new intro to that piece, written by Alaya a couple of weeks ago.

We're very happy to have a place in Oregon's musical history. -- Tom D'Antoni, Editor-In-Chief

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 Buddy Fucking Guy is back headlining at the Waterfront Blues Festival, to say farewell to Portland, as a part of his Damn Right Farewell Tour. That’s right, he’s retiring from the road, and at age 86, with his 8 Grammy’s and half a century of influence; he’s (f*cking) earned it.

You’re damn right I’ll be there, gleeful about getting to hear What’s Wrong with That? live. I suggest you be there too if you give a shit about the Blues. Or Rock ‘n’ Roll. You’ll want to let every minute of this incomparable musician’s performance infiltrate your body, and God willing, your soul. And Portland? Show some freaking respect for this legend. Respect: something we had trouble remembering to extend in 2011, the last time Guy headlined the Blues Fest, during which I plunked out a review of the performance as it was going on – spicy, spontaneous, old school OMN style. Miss those days, and this moment feels full-circle, as I come back to write for the magazine, with Guy’s return acting as my muse.

This final tour, which continues to gain dates as the year rolls on, celebrates his latest album, The Blues Don’t Lie, released in September, 2022. But really, it commemorates so much more. The weight of this final tour should be hitting fellow musicians and fans alike; I mean who hasn’t been influenced by Buddy Guy, whether directly or indirectly? He’s unquestionably changed the landscape of American music, and helped to shape blues, and rock. Period.

Case in point, when perusing his Instagram recently, I peeped a shot of him during a private tour at Paisley Park, holding The Cloud, Prince’s iconic white guitar, with a sly smile on his face. The photo captioned, “When Feels Like Rain meets Purple Rain.” Comments from fans in the know argued with less-studied listeners that Guy was not lucky to hold Prince’s guitar. Prince, posthumously, was the lucky one, that Buddy Guy took the time to do so. While Prince was classically tight-lipped about his musical influences, the musical sway of Buddy Guy on Jimi Hendricks, and Hendricks on Prince doesn’t take a genius to recognize. Obviously, Guy influenced Prince, who was of course, a legend of his own.  At any rate, Guy had fun with The Cloud, you can see it on his face, and lucky are those who witnessed that moment.

It will be interesting to observe Guy’s performance, and what he chooses to speak on in between songs. Coming off of the pandemic and in light of his retirement, now more than ever, I expect he’ll have plenty to say. He’s been vocal recently about the state of the world, implying he wishes people could parse their differences and be kinder to one another.

In a brief post-tour reflection on IG as he awaited his flight home from Australia this spring, he said: “I wish the whole world could just listen to music and smile, stop fighting so much, with disagreements on everything they can come up with now, man. The music…speaks in a whole language. And I hope the whole world will just stop one minute and just listen to some of the lyrics we sing about.” You heard the man. Show up, let the music speak, and if you know what’s good for you, really listen. We’ll all be better for it.

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Buddy (F&*cking) Guy: Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival 2015 -- on the night he tore up the 2011 festival

First run June 2011


“You brought me here to play the blues.” Let the screaming begin. “I’ma try not to disappoint you.”

The Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame inductee, has won six Grammys for his electric and acoustic guitar work, as well as the National Medal of Arts. Also on the list are 23 (count ’em) 23 W.C. Handy Awards (that’s more than anyone else) as well the second ever Billboard Magazine The Century Award. He’s in the Louisiana Hall of Fame, too.

An audience member, who has seen Guy a handful of times and studies Blues and Rock music history as a hobby said, “He’s basically the guy that every other famous guitar player would drop everything to be here for. That’s who Buddy Guy is.”

His influence is unquestionable. Guy has shaped much of this last half-century’s music’s history via avenues of traditional and new wave Blues, as well as Rock guitar. And he clearly knows quality, as is showcased by the fiery fingers of his backing guitar player who stuns with his own solos at times.

Dirty, nasty. Funky, down-home, in your own mama’s basement. Venerable, up town in your sugar mama’s high rise. Buddy (f&*ing) Guy was in Portland, Oregon ladies and gentlemen, and he was in rare form. If you were at the headlining show Sunday night, you understand the middle name assigned above.

After opening with “Nobody Loves Me But My Guitar” he starts in on his second song, “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

After some saucy, down right delicious guitar, he starts in:

“The gypsy woman told my mother. Just before I was born. I got a boy child’s coming.”

And before he finishes the famous lyrics, sung by other greats such as Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton, he stops and looks out at the audience in front of him. There were probably twenty thousand people there, he could hear the loud ones up front. He shakes his head and speaks.

“Now about ten years ago, I wouldn’t be fixin’ to say what I’m about to say.” He pauses again, looking over the crowd slowly.

“I sang the same fucking song in India last week.” Dramatic pause as the crown lets out a scream. “And guess what? They didn’t fuck it up like you just did! Now to think I’m at home.” Shakes his head again. “Let me try that again.”

It was a good, dad at church-like scolding. It called ’em out, and made ’em feel dumb. Or at least we can hope.

The audience erupts in laughter and clapping, along with “Oooh’s” (the “Oooh, no he didn’t” or “Oooh, snap” type.)

“Did he just say that?” Lady Kat, who had performed on the Blues Cruise earlier that day said. “Mmm…”

You heard people saying, “A’ight, brother!” Giving him props for the call out. Telling, not asking them to shut the hell up so he could do his job. The look in his eye, were any of us close enough to see it, was likely one to make you run the other way. Don’t mess with Buddy Guy.

There were a series of these moments throughout the song, which ended up lasting over fifteen minutes, as Guy combined it with “She’s Nineteen Years Old” and continued to stop each time he felt the audience fucked it up too much.

“Who said that? You can cut in again if you want. I’m gonna finish this fuckin’ song. I told you, I’ma play you something so funky you can smell it.”

Don’t get the wrong idea, his off the hook language, and no-nonsense attitude are one part of him. But after he set a few dumb humans straight, he said over and over, “I love you, Portland, Oregon! If you keep this up, I’m gonna move here. I’ll play for you all fuckin’ night!”

Strong sentiment for someone who helped create the Chicago blues scene, and who at seventy-four probably isn’t inclined to leave. He was feelin’ our vibe, and rightly so, there were tons of us and we were smitten. He acknowledged that Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival is one of the best out there.

Starting off life on a farm, so rural he “didn’t know about running water till (he) was seventeen” the man has brought himself up in a remarkable way. We really did have living history there in front of us on Sunday.

“My mom, she never got to see me play. I remember one day when I was a little kid, she was combing her hair in front of a broken mirror, and I jumped in front of her and looked at myself and said, Mama, I’m good lookin’!” And she said “Yes, son, but that’s only skin deep.”

“Now I remembered that, and I wrote this song. I dedicate this one to my mama.” Guy takes the tone down and plays an especially tender version of “Skin Deep.” Guy talks about how nobody plays the Blues on the air anymore, and that though it was dropped from wide-spread air time due to its language, how ironic it is that Rap has become so mainstream. He makes the point that of course rap stems from the blues, and it’s a shame that’s not more recognized.

“They don’t put it on the air, you just call me.”

In closing, he tributes guitar legends in a timeline form, playing each of their styles, and showing how truly incredible his breadth is on the strings. Waters, Hendrix, Clapton, to name a few. He sparks even more performance mojo, which he’s known for, by playing upside down, behind his back, between his legs, over his head, with his mouth, with his towel.

He leaves Portland with lots of goodies, including guitar pics, the towel he use to dry his sweat, and then play his guitar, and most notably, the string that broke off his guitar. Someone will either cherish that or sell it on e-bay. All that stuff aside, what’s important is that Guy left us with a show to remember for a lifetime. One of the best acts to headline the blues festival recently, we surely hope it doesn’t take another five years for him to return.





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