Buddy Guy and Colin James Live in Arizona

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Buddy Guy and Colin James - March 16, 2022 - Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler AZ

Metropolitan Phoenix was rocking the blues on March 16 as the legendary Chicago blues man Buddy Guy took the stage at the Chandler Center for the Arts along with opening act Colin James. James began his show with the thundering "Boogie Funk," an instrumental done in a John Lee Hooker style that was certainly an attention-getter. After the song, James quipped "We're awake now!" Other cuts from James' 45-minute set included the pop rocker "Just a Little Love," "Still a Fool" where Colin injected a little psychedelia into his guitar playing while bass man Steve Marriner blew some great blues harp. While introducing "Open Road," the title cut of his most-recent album, Colin noted that he and Buddy Guy first shared a stage decades ago, and brought Guy's keys player Marty Sammon on to guest on the tune. Sammon stayed on with Colin and his band for a few songs, delighting the crowd with showy electric piano solos. James' set also included a take on the Tony Joe White cut "As the Crow Flies," the slow and steamy "Why'd You Lie" and the Chuck Berry-informed "When I Leave This House." Colin wrapped up his show with "A Man's Gotta Be a Stone," another boogie number that sounded like John Lee Hooker jamming with ZZ Top.

Buddy Guy is not just revered for his guitar playing; he's known as a consummate showman and this evening in Chandler he demonstrated why. With his band already playing the opening notes of his first song, Guy strolled on stage to a standing ovation from the packed house. The crowd went wild as Guy ripped into "Damn Right, I've Got the Blues," an appropriate opener for the evening. After the song ended, Guy quipped "That sounded so funky you could smell it!" Buddy's stage patter was a big part of the show throughout as he made comments and told stories, often using his face to convey various feelings too. Two rather lascivious songs were played back-to-back; a jazz-tinted take on the Willie Dixon chestnut "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" and another Guy favorite, Muddy Waters' "She's Nineteen Years Old." The latter, about a man lusting after a teenager, caused Guy to amusingly quip "I didn't write the song." Guy likes to play much of his set as a medley and this evening a bunch of songs flowed together, from "I Just Want to Make Love to You" where he played an insanely hot guitar solo to a snippet of Bobby Rush's "Chicken Heads," a bit of the Three Blazers super oldie "How Blue Can You Get?" and even throwing in a few riffs from Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" which he amazing played just by slapping a cloth against his fretboard. The showman often paused along the way, riffing on "organic" chicken eggs during "Chicken Heads" and explaining what the lyrics of "I'm a King Bee" mean. Deviating a bit from traditional blues, Guy sounded great on the soul number "Skin Deep." By the time the octogenarian, about to turn 86-years-old, launched into ZZ Hill's "Someone Else is Steppin' In," the crowd was ready once again to show their appreciation with another standing ovation.

The Buddy Guy tour with Colin James on many dates continues; find a list of upcoming shows here.

Upcoming shows at the Chandler Center for the Arts include:
Scotty McCreery - Apr. 3
Meow Meow - May 22
Ben Folds - June 19
Corinne Bailey Rae - July 10
One Night of Queen/Gary Mullen & the Works - July 29
"Weird Al" Yankovic - Sept. 11

See the full list of shows coming to Chandler Center for the Arts here.

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