Music News & Reviews

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards can attest ‘The Blues is Alive and Well’ as this legend comes to Riverbend

Blue’s legend Buddy Guy released his 18th solo album, “The Blues us Alive and Well” last year. He is 82 years old.
Blue’s legend Buddy Guy released his 18th solo album, “The Blues us Alive and Well” last year. He is 82 years old.

Buddy Guy/Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

7 p.m., Sunday at PNC Pavilion, 6295 Kellogg Ave. in Cincinnati. $23.50-$73.

The title of Buddy Guy’s most recent album, released almost a year ago to the day, is possibly the most encouraging affirmation the blues world has received in years as to the state and survival of the music it is so devoted to.

“The Blues is Alive and Well.”

With Guy, at age 82, still so visibly active in terms of performance, why shouldn’t it be? He is one of the last – if not the very last – prominent survivors of a generation of Southern born blues greats who gained prominence by traveling to Chicago and electrifying their music so that a succeeding generation reared more on rock ‘n’ roll than blues tradition would receive the sound as something new.

That certainly holds true for a legion of British celebrities who have cited Guy as an influence – namely, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. All, with the exception of Clapton, make cameo appearances on “The Blues is Alive and Well.”

Beyond such recognition, Guy’s music has been known for its ferocity – a jolting electric sound so boisterous one has to believe he was as influenced by rock music as it was by him. But such electricity also extended to his singing, which regularly possessed the sweetness and severity of gospel.

The only problem with this has been the numerous recordings Guy has issued since his lengthy career renaissance began at the dawn of the 1990s. Many have been over-produced and saturated with all-star guest lists, creating the misconception that the purity of Guy’s music couldn’t stand on its own.

A blissful exception was the Grammy winning 2001 album “Sweet Tea,” a stripped-down record that sent Guy back to the South for a set of lean, rural-flavored blues tunes by Junior Kimbrough, T-Model Ford and CeDell Davis. It remains the best Guy recording to surface since his Chess recordings of the 1960s.

“The Blues is Alive and Well,” which won Guy another Grammy earlier this year, is a worthy addition to the Guy catalog. The guest appearances are held to a minimum with the sessions employing only an efficient quartet as support. It opens with “A Few Good Years,” a slow but immensely turbulent reflection on mortality with the clarity of Guy’s singing placed at the forefront with his guitarwork swirling like an approaching typhoon behind him.

What’s better a than a recommended new Guy recording? Why a live Guy concert, of course. On Sunday, he performs at the PNC Pavilion in Cincinnati, the smaller, more intimate of Riverbend Music Center’s two stage areas.

The performance will be a double bill completed by Kenny Wayne Shepherd who, like Guy, is a Louisiana native. Shepherd broke through to national attention while still in his teens, taken with the rock/blues music of guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan.

And who did the late Vaughan, throughout his career, recognize as one of his foremost inspirations? You got it – Buddy Guy.

Dallas Moore/Laid Back Country Picker/Bedford Band

9 p.m., Saturday at The Burl, 375 Thompson Rd. $15.

“It’s a long way down to the bottom of my bourbon loving heart,” sings Dallas Moore in the midst of a hard drinking, hard living country barnburner of a tune called “Killing Me Nice and Slow.” The title refers to what the Cincinnati country traditionalist sees as the methodology behind his favorite whiskey beverage.

Country music and drinking have been evil cultural twins for decades. But the relationship between the two is but one of the angles Moore takes with his music. The other is the title tune to his newest album, “Mr. Honky Tonk,” a roaring celebration of piano pounding joviality, piledriving guitar gusto and Southern soaked singing that harkens back to the height of the mid ‘70s outlaw country movement. It’s a sound that, in Moore’s hands, is as timeless as it effortless.

Curiously, it wasn’t that long ago that the singer was in the thick of jazz and classical guitar studies at Northern Kentucky University. But the vintage country sway and keen barroom wordplay of songs like “Shoot Out the Lights” (“I been hungry for knowledge, I been thirsty for the truth. I’ve squandered all my love, my money, time and youth”) soon took Moore out of the classroom and placed him on the road.

On Saturday, that road brings him to The Burl. There Moore will showcase a sound forged by two decades of relentless gigging. His bio claims he crammed 327 shows into 2017 alone.

Expect plenty of vintage outlaw drive and sentiment, and maybe even a preview of his forthcoming “Tryin’ to Be a Blessing” album. Fallsburg’s Laid Back Country Picker and Morehead’s Bedford Band will open Saturday’s performance.