Halfway into the evening, Buddy Guy — wearing an electric-blue jumpsuit, his black Stratocaster covered with those trademark white polka dots — is playing a solo, a real ripper. Without interruption he walks off the stage and vanishes into the wings. He is gone for what seems a long while, band still playing and him still soloing from wherever it is he has disappeared to. “He’s probably taking a leak,” says my friend. It is at this moment that Guy, still honking out the same mean, long, loud guitar solo, walks back out into the stage lights and approaches the microphone. “I was not in the bathroom,” he says, “contrary to what y’all may be thinking. I was trying to come out there in the audience and be with y’all, but security wouldn’t let me pass.” He grins.
Then, with a flick of the neck of his guitar, he stops the band. “Done with that,” he says. “Here’s how Muddy would have played that same thing.” He starts up again and takes it to a whole new place. That, I realize, is why you go to a Buddy Guy concert — not because he’s a living blues legend or any of that. You go to see Buddy Guy because he is entertaining.
Buddy Guy is by now old enough to have performed at four decades of Montreux jazz festivals. Ignored by American listeners during the ’50s and ’60s, Guy’s career took off when British rock stars copied his style and brought it back to these shores in the form of pop hits. Thereafter, Guy’s stage mojo would continue to worm its way into the very essence of the following generation of guitar heroes — heavies like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. Forget about his stage jokes — if it’s about an electric guitar, Buddy Guy is the man.
George Thorogood & the Destroyers also perform.
BUDDY GUY, Viejas Concerts in the Park, Sunday, August 3, 7 p.m. 619-445-5400. $56.