By Stephen K. Peeples
Packing his signature Fender Stratocaster, blues guitar legend Buddy Guy and his band will electrify the Canyon Santa Clarita with a headlining set Sunday night, Aug. 12.
The Grammy-winning Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famer and Kennedy Center honoree just celebrated his birthday July 31 at his famous blues club in Chicago, Buddy Guy’s Legends.
At 82 years young, Guy – No. 30 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 Greatest Guitarists of All Time and a direct, acknowledged influence on youngsters like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan – can still outshred players of just about any age.
“I was born on a farm, picking cotton,” the son of a Louisiana sharecropper told me backstage at the Hollywood Bowl after he and protégé Quinn Sullivan, then 13, rocked 18,000 fans at the Playboy Jazz Festival on June 12, 2011.
“I didn’t know what running water was until 17,” Guy said. “So you know I didn’t have electric lights. I couldn’t even play a [bleeping] radio at seven years old, man.”
Snitching strands from an aluminum screen door to make strings for his first homemade guitar, Guy picked up hot licks and showmanship from players like Lightnin’ Slim, B.B. King and T-Bone Walker.
The youngster came up on the chitlin circuit in the ‘50s and ‘60s, then moved to Chicago and helped pioneer the Chicago blues style, recording for the Chess brothers.
That led up to a breakthrough performance at the 1967 Newport Folk Festival, and Guy’s first encounter with rock’s greatest guitarist in a New York City club.
“They told me, before I left Louisiana, to never play New York — you will never make it,” Guy said. “And I proudly played Newport in 1967 and got invited to New York. I saw this kid, on his knees with a reel-to-reel, and he was listening.
“And I was, like, wild and crazy and drinking my wine,” Guy said. “Sixty cents a bottle, then. And I heard voices saying, ‘This is Jimi Hendrix.’ I said, ‘Who in the hell is that? I didn’t know.
“I (played) the guitar behind my head [a la T-Bone Walker], and [Hendrix] came up and told me who he was,” Guy said. “They’ve got a tape out on that, with him recording me [see the 2004 documentary “Lightning in a Bottle”]. And we became good friends about two or three years before he passed away.”
As a senior blues ambassador, Guy still has serious fun on stages worldwide: “I give them the blues, but make them smile,” he said.
As to his plan for the Canyon Santa Clarita: “I wanna play something so funky, you can smell it.”
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Canyon Santa Clarita doors open at 6 p.m., music starts at 7 p.m. and the headliner takes the stage at 9.
Buddy Guy tickets are $78/$88/$98 plus applicable fees. If you purchase a ticket at a table, you must also purchase dinner and arrive by 7. Minimum is $25 per person. Juniors younger than 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult.
Tickets are available through TicketMaster and the Canyon Santa Clarita box office. TicketMaster is open 24/7 at 866-448-7849 or online at TicketMaster.com. Club box office walk-up hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Telephone hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; call 888-645-5006.
You can enjoy Sunday Brunch with live music every week from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Lobby Bar and CaliBurger are open seven days a week.
Find the Canyon Santa Clarita on the ground floor at the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall, 24201 Valencia Blvd., #1351, Santa Clarita 91355.
Get more info about the club at www.WhereMusicMeetsTheSoul.com.
Stephen K. Peeples is an award-winning journalist based in the Santa Clarita Valley who has covered the SCV music scene for local media since 2004. Contact him via stephenkpeeples.com.