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2011 Madison Ribberfest Blues Bash

Buddy Guy considered
a pioneer of Chicago blues

Legendary singer
will close out festival on Saturday

By Laura Hodges
Contributing writer

(August 2011) – If any living musician has earned the title “blues legend,” it is Buddy Guy, the Saturday headliner for the Madison Ribberfest.
Guy’s guitar playing laid the foundation of Chicago blues and influenced such rock guitarists as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
“For nearly the past half century he’s been one of the most daring and sophisticated guitar players in electric blues,” said music critic Ted Drozdowski.
Clapton calls Guy simply “the best guitar player alive.” He said, “Buddy Guy is to me what Elvis was for others.”

Madison Ribberfest
Band Schedule

Friday, Aug 19
5 p.m.: Gates open
6 p.m.: Davina & The Vagabonds
8 p.m.: Tinsley Ellis
10 p.m.: Ronnie Baker Brooks

Saturday, Aug. 20
11 a.m.: Gates open
11:30 a.m.: Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel
1:30 p.m.: Ray Fuller & The Bluesrockers
3:30 p.m.: V-Groove
5:30 p.m.: Big Bill Morganfield
7:30 p.m.: Pigmania Awards on Stage
7:30 p.m.: Sugar Ray & The Bluetones
9 p.m.: Quinn Sullivan
9:30 p.m.: Buddy Guy
11:30 p.m.: Festival closes

Ribberfest organizers say it is a special treat for them to host Guy as the main headliner for the 10th anniversary festival. He’ll play from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at Madison’s Bicentennial Park.
Guy will close out a weekend of barbeque and blues on the riverfront.
At age 75, Guy is as energetic as ever on stage and keeps up an amazing performance schedule.
“He may be in his 70s, but he’s a very dynamic guy,” said David Butler, who co-chairs the Ribberfest music selection committee with Rocky Harrell. “This is a very big act for Madison.”
Guy has been called the bridge between the blues and rock and roll. Whether their preference runs to blues or rock, Ribberfest festival-goers can expect a riveting performance.
New York Times music critic Jon Pareles described a 2004 performance in this way: “Mr. Guy, 68, mingles anarchy, virtuosity, deep blues and hammy shtick in ways that keep all eyes on him… (Guy) loves extremes: sudden drops from loud to soft, or a sweet, sustained guitar solo followed by a jolt of speed, or a high, imploring vocal cut off with a rasp… Whether he’s singing with gentle menace or bending new curves into a blue note, he is a master of tension and release, and his every wayward impulse is riveting.”
One of the most fascinating things about Guy is his stage presence. His flamboyant showmanship far outshines others as he plays his guitar with drumsticks, strolls into the audience while playing solos and picks the guitar with his teeth or plays it over his head.
The best accolades come from his fellow musicians.
Vaughan once said, “Buddy can go from one end of the spectrum to another. He can play quieter than anybody I’ve ever heard, or wilder and louder than anybody I’ve ever heard. I play pretty loud a lot of times, but Buddy’s tones are incredible. He pulls such emotion out of so little volume.”
Beck commented, “He transcended blues and started becoming theater. It was high art, kind of like drama theater when he played, you know. He was playing behind his head long before Hendrix. I once saw him throw the guitar up in the air and catch it in the same chord.”
Former rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman said, “Guitar legends do not come any better than Buddy Guy. He is feted by his peers and loved by his fans for his ability to make the guitar both talk and cry the blues. Such is Buddy’s mastery of the guitar that there is virtually no guitarist that he cannot imitate.”
Born and raised in Lettsworth, La., Guy was a pioneer of the Chicago blues sound. He learned to play guitar on a two string diddley bow he concocted. He later upgraded to a Harmony acoustic guitar which has since been donated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Buddy Guy

Photo provided

Chicago blues great Buddy Guy
will headline this year’s Madison
Ribberfest Blues Bash on Saturday night.

In 1957, Guy moved to Chicago and was greatly influenced by blues great Muddy Waters. When it came time to record his own material, his style was similar to his live shows and not what his record producer, Chess Records, wanted to release. As a result, he was used mainly as a session guitarist to back Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and Koko Taylor. Although he was signed with Chess from 1959 to 1968, his only released album during that period was 1967’s “Left My Blues in San Francisco.”
By the late 1960s, his career was declining as he was increasingly overlooked for all he had accomplished. However his fellow musicians didn’t forget him. During the 1970s, Guy opened for the Rolling Stones on some of their tours.
But with the blues revival of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Guy’s career received its second wind. As a result of Clapton’s request that he be part of the “24 Nights” all-star blues guitar lineup at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1991, Guy went on to sign with Silvertone Records.
The guitar legend has earned six Grammy Awards for his work on electric and acoustic guitars, and for contemporary and traditional forms of blues music. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2003.
Guy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 14, 2005, by Clapton and B.B. King.
Guy has earned the rank of 30th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” Billboard magazine has awarded him its Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement and the title of Greatest Living Electric Blues Guitarist.
For his Madison performance, Guy asked the Ribberfest organizers if he could bring along this protégé, 12-year-old guitar prodigy Quinn Sullivan. Sullivan will take the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday for a 30-minute set.
A guitarist since age 5, Sullivan got his first big break – at age 6 – playing on “The Ellen Degeneris Show.”
He first played with Guy in 2007 during a performance in his hometown, New Bedford, Mass. Sullivan made a guest appearance on Guy’s Grammy-nominated 2008 album “Skin Deep,” and he has played his own live set at numerous Buddy Guy performances since 2009. Sullivan released his debut album, “Cyclone,” this year.

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