Last night for a Wednesday Jazz Night at the Hollywood Bowl, the legendary Chicago guitarist Buddy Guy was joined by 14-year old blues prodigy Quinn Sullivan at the end of his set for some Clapton and Hendrix riffing after a brief, but memorable and indelible showing by the funky METERS.
On schedule to the second as usual at the Bowl – just as the clock turned to 8:00 pm, the 24 year old funky METERS project kicked into a roughly 13-minute rendering of the classic “Fire On The Bayou”. This long-running incarnation of The Meters features original Meter Men George Porter Jr. and Art “Poppa Funk” Neville alongside the uber-talented and always tasteful guitarist Brian Stoltz and charasmatic drummer Russell Batiste. It was a left coast celebration of the recent legal victory for Batiste, Porter and Stoltz after a long and painful legal battle with their ex-manager. In high spirits, no matter the situation, Porter steered the ship during the extensive, book-ending improvisational portions of the set during “Fiyo” and the always-remarkable “Ain’t No Use,” replete with Porter’s soulful growl, several atypical breaks and fresh key changes, and the familiar eponymous coda scattered throughout. The crowd obviously could’ve grooved along with the funky METERS for hours and this band is no stranger to a marathon show. At any rate, seeing this little slice of NOLA on a Wednesday at the Hollywood Bowl brought back some fond memories from my three years in the Big Easy.
I’m 74 years young, there ain’t nothing I haven’t done
I’ve been a dog and I’ve been a tomcat
I chased some tails and I left some tracks
I still know how to have my fun ’cause I’m 74 years young
– Buddy Guy “74 Years Young”
After a brief intermission, the charming and six-time GRAMMY-winning blues man Buddy Guy took to the stage in his trademark black-and-white polka dots and immediately began showing his deft touch on the Strat, playing with an almost unparalleled ease. In a world filled with cacophonous shredders, Guy has always placed emphasis on unobtrusive, non-showy tones that grab the listener by the ears and force full aural attention.
Guy told a number of stories with his banter and songs like “74 Years Young,” (written three years ago and updated to 77 for this occasion) ran through Muddy Waters riffs while espousing the great’s influence on his career and made his way through the crowd to personally guitar-serenade lucky fans in the caviar seats up front. Towards the end of the set, Guy invited up 14 year old blues virtuoso Quinn Sullivan to showcase his talents. Sullivan had a great deal of poise for someone his age, showing no signs of nerves as he played his original “Getting There,” riffed on Cream’s “Strange Brew” and traded Hendrix riffs with the Chicago blues legend. Separated by a few generations, you could almost see the electric torch being passed from old to young on Wednesday night. Guessing this won’t be the last time Sullivan graces the Bowl stage.