Buddy Guy’s 80th Birthday Celebration At Legends: Photos & Review

By Ian Rawn Aug 8, 2016 1:28 pm PDT

Photos & Words by: Ian Rawn

Buddy Guy’s 80th Birthday Celebration :: 8.1.16 :: Legends :: Chicago

2016 has been an unfortunate year when it comes to the loss of many great musicians, with Prince, David Bowie and Merle Haggard among those who died this year. This year has followed a 2015 that saw the loss of perhaps one of the most notable blues musicians, B.B. King. Given this, seeing a celebration of life seems even more momentous. I am referring to last Monday’s party in honor of living legend Buddy Guy’s 80th birthday.

There was no better place to hold the celebration than Buddy’s own venue, Legends, in the heart of downtown Chicago. Going into the evening, your writer and Southerner had yet to experience the blues in this mecca of a city. Additionally, there were few details released about who was performing that evening and just exactly what Buddy would be doing and the extent of the celebration. All that was known was that the event would be held in a very small venue with a few local (and very talented) bands slotted to hit the stage.

The night kicked off with Brother John who was joined by local sensation Kate Moss. Their opening set was more than just a warm up, as it featured solid guitar work and a horn section adding to the energy. Next up was The NuBlu band which is headed by Buddy Guy’s daughter Carlise. Their set featured a variety of classic cover songs ranging from blues to rock’n roll and even a heavy dose of soul music.

NuBlu then gave way to the birthday celebration. Buddy was sitting at the table of honor surrounded by family and friends. Many family members took the stage to pay tribute all while in front of the stage sat a custom birthday cake adorned with a replica of Buddy’s favorite liquor, Remy Martin XO. Buddy was joined by politicians, music producers, family and friends as he was presented with gifts and an over-sized birthday card accompanied by a massive “Happy Birthday” performance. In true Buddy form, after thanking the crowd, he stepped off stage to greet his fans and sign autographs for nearly an hour.

The music would then continue with numerous surprise guests. The final set of the night featured the Mike Wheeler Band as the core group. They would then be joined at various points by Buddy Guy, Quinn Sullivan, Carmen Vandenberg (Jeff Beck Band), Jonny Lang, Marty Sammon, Jimmy Hall and others. The intimate venue was brought to a frenzied state throughout the numerous highlights that would ensue. To describe this guest-filled set as a “guitar clinic” would be an understatement.

The night would continue with the help of local musicians like Guy King and I am not even sure at what point the music ended. For a first experience seeing blues in the Windy City, I left more than satisfied and with so much excitement as to what I had witnessed sleeping that night was an impossibility. I feel blessed to have experienced such an event and proud that I could be part of a small group paying homage to the legend Buddy Guy, who is going strong at 80 years old.

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