Drive to Natchez, MS, from Baton Rouge on the most popular route and you’ll miss Lettsworth, LA. Cross the Mississippi River in Natchez and before you know it, you’ll be in Ferriday, LA; home of Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Howard K. Smith. Lettsworth is about sixty miles south of Ferriday and a plantation near there is where Buddy Guy was raised.
Probably not many people from Lettsworth have won Grammys — Buddy Guy owns five of them. He has also won the Blues Music Award twenty-eight times along with many other awards. He came in at number thirty on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and great stars such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn have credited him with having influenced them. Not bad for a Louisiana man. Well, I suspect Chicago has a rightful claim to him, too, but were it not for those many practice sessions on the levee in Louisiana, well, he may have never made it up the river to the Windy City.
Drummer/producer, Tom Hambridge, co-wrote the tracks on Living Proof along with Buddy Guy based on notes he took during their conversations, so the lyrics take on a biographical tone. In fact, they do tell the Buddy Guy story as he reflects on his life, career, and his place in history.
Listeners who are familiar with Hendrix and Clapton, but not as much so with Guy will feel like they’ve been listening to Buddy Guy for years. Even a casual listener can see the influence he’s had with Hendrix and Clapton. It begins right off the bat, a minute and a half into track one. Shut your eyes and you can see Hendrix setting a Stratocaster on fire!
“Thank Me Someday” is a message to his family, “Living Proof” is a testament to his perseverance, and “Everybody’s Got to Go” is a soulful reminder of our eventual crossing of the River Jordan. “Stay Around a Little Longer” features guest, B.B.King, Guy’s strongest influence and long-time friend, the man Guy says, “Created this style of guitar we all play.” Another big name guest appears in track seven, as Carlos Santana joins in for “Where the Blues Began.”
We recently reviewed the work of another Louisiana blues legend, Piano Red, and commented on the fun often found in blues lyrics and Guy doesn’t disappoint with “Too Soon”, an eloquent telling-off of a long gone love. Lyrics like, “If youse the last woman on the earth, and I could have all the honey up, under yo skirt, If I was horny as a billy goat, I’d still say, ‘Woman get yo ass out the door!’” It’s hard not to smile or laugh out loud with lines like that!
“Skanky” is the closer and a hot blues/rock number that serves as a nice tribute to B.B.King. It is also a great example of what Buddy Guy does that influenced others. This track alone makes this a great CD for your collection.
Buddy Guy is “100 proof” and Living Proof is a must-have for blues, rock, and guitar fans. Release date is October 26, 2010.
Tour dates can be found on his official website.