Buddy Guy & Jimmie Vaughan:
A Wellspring of Blues at the Wellmont
A SoundPress.net Archive Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Interestingly, it was an invite to join Eric Clapton's All Star Band for the Royal Albert Hall concerts in 1990 and 1991 that led to a revitalization for both Buddy Guy and Jimmie Vaughan. Things had slowed down for the legendary Buddy Guy but the London gigs introduced him to a new generation of fans. Jimmie Vaughan had stopped recording and touring after the tragic death of his younger brother Stevie Ray Vaughan and the series of shows encouraged him to return to the studio and the stage.

Buddy Guy & Jimmie Vaughan in Concert
Buddy Guy was captivating and charismatic in New Jersey.

Buddy Guy who will turn 74 in 2010 is often associated with the Chicago Blues yet his music melds jazz, rock and soul. Guy has won 5 Grammy's and he has influenced countless guitar greats including the aforementioned Clapton and Vaughans. Jimmie Vaughan is best known for his work in The Fabulous Thunderbirds who are credited with popularizing modern blues in the late 70's and 80's.

Buddy Guy and Jimmie Vaughan - both favoring Fenders - shared the spotlight at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, New Jersey on May 22, 2010. Taking the stage at ten p.m. Buddy's talented team (Ric Hall - guitar; Marty Sammon - keys; Orlando Wright - bass; and Tim Austin - drums) jammed as Guy strolled to the center with a smile on his face. Buddy started right away with a series of smoking riffs backed by roaring rhythms and a peppy piano. "Nobody Understands Me But My Guitar" brilliantly blended rock with the blues.

Buddy Guy & Jimmie Vaughan in Concert
The Buddy Guy Band: Ric Hall on guitar and Orlando Wright on bass.

The second song was just as potent with thunderous thumps coming from the drum kit as Buddy's fingers flowed furiously over the fret countered by lavish licks from Ric Hall. Buddy hummed along and added a few humorous comments to the mix.

Guy embodies the spirit of an elder blues statesman, which he is, yet his energy and enthusiasm was that of a much younger man. He is a seasoned player and a showman. Throughout the night his skillful sequences were punctuated with tricks such as playing the guitar with drum sticks, picking the strings with his teeth and playing the instrument behind his head. Towards the end of his set he walked out among the audience while performing his sizzling solos.

Buddy has a varied and vibrant vocal range running from gritty on traditional blues tunes to sweet on sentimental songs. A prime example was the pretty "Feels Like Rain". Guy's singing was smooth melding with succulent leads and rhythms that pattered like rain.

Buddy Guy & Jimmie Vaughan in Concert
The Buddy Guy Band: Marty Sammon on keys and Tim Austin on drums.

"I like that," responded Guy to the crowd that was singing the hook to "Feels Like Rain". Buddy mentioned Chicago and his early days and influences before they progressed through a blistering interpretation of "I Just Want To Make Love To You".

"Skin Deep" - the title track from Buddy's most recent record - was reflective with rich instrumentation and vocals. Guy was playing an unusual shaped guitar that added a twang to the tune that taught that the essence of an individual comes from the inside and what is on the outside is only skin deep. "Best Damn Fool" also from Skin Deep was a blazing blend of rock and blues.

Guy played a number of tracks associated with Muddy Waters. His last series of songs included a shout out to Slowhand with a mystical medley of "Boom Boom", "Strange Brew", Voodoo Chile" and "Sunshine of Your Love". Buddy's spin on "Brew" was slower yet mesmerizing. He mentioned Hendrix as he segued into "Voodoo" that featured elongated notes and nuances. Guy played the guitar behind his head before introducing the band and handing out picks. As the show began, it ended with Guy's tight team jamming allowing time for Buddy to sign tickets stubs and other items for ecstatic fans. No encore was required or performed.

Buddy Guy & Jimmie Vaughan in Concert
Jimmie Vaughan takes the stage at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair.

Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-a-Whirl Band (George Rains-drums, Bill Willis-B-3, Billy Pitman-rhythm guitar & horn section) started with "Comin' and Goin'", which combined precise plunks with plentiful rhythms. Jimmie encouraged the crowd to clap along to the sassy song. Vaughan let his band shine before he stepped up for the first of many clean concise solos.

"Thank you so much! How you doing tonight?," greeted Vaughan before moving into the foot tapping "Roll Roll Roll" with Jimmie playing the guitar behind his head for a few notes. The sultry "Dirty Work At The Crossroads" blended blues beats with soulful, straightforward string work.

Buddy Guy & Jimmie Vaughan in Concert
Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-A-Whirl band hard at work in Essex County.

"The Pleasure Is All Mine" - a new number - was peppy and propelled by polished horns and Jimmie's persuasive picking. "What Makes You So Tuff" melded passionate pulls, pulsing beats and punchy horns. "Just A Little Bit" combined feisty chord progressions with dramatic pauses and more penetrating leads from Vaughan.

Jimmie was measured yet magical. His set was a mix of blues and roots rock. Midway through his show, singer Lou Ann Barton joined the band for a number of songs including the melodic and moody "Shake A Hand", the spicy "Come Love" with Vaughan playing harmonica and the masterful "Miss You So".

"Help me out on this one," stated Jimmie as they segued into "Boom-Bapa-Boom", which featured Lou Ann and Vaughan harmonizing over intricate instrumentation. Jimmie and Tilt-a-Whirl paid tribute to SRV with "D/FW" from "Family Style" - the album the brothers recorded before SRV's untimely death, thus ending their engaging set on a solid note.

Opening for Guy and Vaughan was Moreland & Arbuckle a three piece band from Kansas. They had an usual sound that was heavy on rhythms rather than riffs. The singer alternated between vocals and harmonica. The guitarist switched from a traditional instrument to a cigar box bass guitar hybrid that added unusual textures and tones to the band's mix of rock and blues. They played a quick yet captivating set of up-beat tunes. The group, consisting of guitarist Aaron "Chainsaw" Moreland, and vocalist/blues harp player Dustin Arbuckle was well-received by the knowledgable audience and proved that their position in the finals at the 2005 International Blues Competition in Memphis, Tennessee was no fluke.

Buddy Guy & Jimmie Vaughan in Concert
Aaron "Chainsaw" Moreland and vocalist/blues harp player Dustin Arbuckle of Moreland & Arbuckle.

Related Links: For more information on BUDDY GUY & JIMMIE VAUGHAN and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- BuddyGuy.net | JimmieVaughan.com | Moreland & Arbuckle | Wellmont Theatre

(Originally Published on May 22, 2010)

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