Blues Legends Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan and Charlie Musselwhite Skillfully Take Over the Hollywood Bowl (SHOW REVIEW)

On a perfect summer evening in Hollywood, legendary guitarist Buddy Guy headlined a stacked lineup of veteran bluesmen at one of the world’s most beautiful music venues. Guy, along with Jimmie Vaughan and Charlie Musselwhite, took over the historic Hollywood Bowl on August 7, 2019, to the cheering delight of thousands of fans.

It was a night filled with classic blues music. The three legends and their talented bands performed songs rooted in Chicago, Memphis and Austin, while honoring all styles of the blues.

Vocalist and harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite opened the festivities. The 75-year-old Blues Music Hall of Famer, 35-time Blues Music Award winner and 11-time Grammy nominee showed his skills during a brief, but memorable set. Musselwhite blasted on a variety of harmonicas and displayed his distinctive vocals on “I’m a Stranger” and “Strange Land.” Guitarist Matt Stubbs played a few exceptional solos during the set.

Jimmie Vaughan, the 68-year-old four-time Grammy winner, came out next and launched into an instrumental as his eight-piece band filled the air with sweet sounds. The three-piece horn section (Michael Rinta on trombone, Doug James on baritone sax and Al Gomez on trumpet) played tight arrangements and excellent solos that complemented the stylish Vaughan solos that careened out of his custom-designed Fender Stratocaster. 

The band played a couple of tunes from Vaughan’s new album of covers called Baby Please Come Home. Vaughan and the band turn Lefty Frizzell’s country-tinged doo-wop song “No One to Talk to (But the Blues)” into a wailing, horn-filled, rapid-fire blues number. Larry Davis’ 1958 blues standard “Texas Flood” has been part of Vaughan’s repertoire for years and it also serves as a tribute to his younger brother Stevie Ray, who was closely associated with the tune. 

Vaughan played to the longtime fans in the crowd when he launched into “The Crawl,” a 1980 song from his old band The Fabulous Thunderbirds. With some theatrical trickery, Vaughan played a solo behind his back and over his head, before closing out the entertaining set.

Headliner Buddy Guy just turned 83 on July 30. He may be the last of the original blues legends (along with Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and B.B. King) that gained popularity in the 1950s. They brought the uniquely American style of music known as “the blues” to the people and in the ensuing decades. Guy has been a significant influence on modern blues-rockers like Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Rolling Stones and many others. He is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and an eight-time Grammy winner. 

Still vibrant, hugely talented and full of energy, Guy played several of his classic tunes, along with standards written by his predecessors and contemporary artists. He toyed with the audience throughout the set. In between blistering guitar solos and thunderous vocals, he would tease the crowd about messing (he used a different word) up his lyrics. He also would stop mid-song, after a particularly racy verse and say, “Don’t blame me, I didn’t write it.” 

Guy opened with a scorching “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues.” Before playing the distinctive notes to Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man” he said, “I can play something so funky you can smell it.” Guy got many in the audience singing along for another Muddy Waters’ classic, “I Just Wanna Make Love to You.” Guy gave props to his drummer, Tom Hambridge, who wrote and produced the song “Cognac,” from the band’s new album The Blues Is Alive And Well. 

A series of covers followed as Guy broke out his bag of tricks during Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” He moved to the side of the vast stage, placed his guitar on an amplifier and played a solo with a drumstick and a towel. After moving back to center stage, he played behind his back and let the guitar rest on his butt – he shook it to create a fuzzy melody and got the crowd laughing and applauding. More sing-alongs followed on Johnnie Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love to Your Old Lady.”

Guy chose “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In (Slippin’ Out, Slippin’ In)” for his regular romp through the crowd. He ambled into the masses playing his guitar and singing the lyrics as a few burly security guys led the way. Once he returned to the stage, the band joined Guy on the often covered “Fever.” During the song, Guy played riffs in tribute to John Lee Hooker and B.B. King, whom he called the greatest guitarist of all-time.

To close the show, Guy brought out Jimmie Vaughan, young guitar ace Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and Buddy’s son Greg Guy. The expanded band played Don Nix’s “Going Down,” with each guitarist taking a solo, then eventually segued into Slim Harpo’s “King Bee.” Buddy Guy finished the tune and said farewell as he received a much-deserved standing ovation from the adoring crowd.

Photo by Marc Lacatell


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One Response

  1. I was there and I found Charlie Musselwhite’s set amazing. He and his band were sharp and had a great sound. Buddy Guy showed why he is the ambassador of the blues. He was very entertaining and showed his real professionalism when he let his backup guitarist step up with a great solo.

    Sadly, the low point was Jimmie Vaughan. I’ve seen Jimmie 3 times in the past and this performance seemed disjointed. The group played well enough but it just seemed like Jimmie wasn’t into it. In between songs Jimmie seemed confused about what to say to the crowd and after a few songs he greeted the crowd like he had just started. At on point it a guy came out from stage right and held up 2 fingers and Jimmie made a gesture like he didn’t understand what the guy wanted so the guy turned and walked back off stage. It was an awkward moment in what I thought was an overall low energy performance by Jimmie Vaughan.

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