If the original 1957 Gunfight at OK Corral was only filmed a few miles away, the spirit of the gunslingers was in full force as the new Fastest Gun in the West, Quinn Sullivan, met up with the veteran 6 shooter Buddy Guy for a meeting at High Noon in the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, with both sides victorious and bullets flying in all directions.
At only 18 years old, Quinn Sullivan looks like he’s not even ready for Driver’s Training, but plays like he just got out on parole. Opening the evening with a rock solid team of Tom Hambridge/dr, Marty Sammon/key, Orlando Wright/b and Ric Hill/g, the young man from Massachusetts who’s been under Guy’s tutelage for a decade (go crunch the numbers yourself!) mixed originals with rock hero covers in his 45 minute set.
His own upbeat and uplifting “Lifting Off” as well as the slinky blueser “Getting There” wowed the audience with his wailing guitar work as well as impressively strong and earthy vocals. He showed his boogie chops as he had fun on the frets during his own shuffling instrumental “Cyclone” while the guitar strings and the wind cried Mary as Sullivan bent the strings like a contortionist on a fervent take of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” Some jazzy swing was in play as Sammon’s keys added to Sullivan’s wah wah on the Allman Brothers-inspired “She Gets Me” while the team delivered a trip to the South Side of Chicago for a sweaty “Buddy’s Blues.” By the time Sullivan and company were done peppering the theater with notes on a galloping “Let It Rain,” all the people around me were grabbing their iphones to order his albums on Amazon. When’s he coming back?!?
With Tim Austin replacing Hambridge as the sole change in the band, Buddy Guy jumped on stage with reckless abandon. At 80, he’s seen the young gunners come and go, and with his double action firearms, belted out a series of foot stomping solos on opening pieces “Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues” and the venerable “Hoochie Coochie Man” that oozed of authority. Having lived without water or electricity for a period longer than Sullivan’s been alive, Guy knows a thing or two about life, and his vocal delivery is one of a man with a full life, telling stories on “Boom Boom” or “19 Years Old” and “Who’s Making Love” with the observations of a sage. As Guy himself said during the show, “I tell songs about everyday life. It may not have happened to you, but you know someone it’s happened to.”
And you believe it, as while he snarls and shouts like a combination street preacher and corner watch salesman, he does it with a twinkle in his eye, howling at the moon on “Cryin’ Shame” or getting low down on “King Bee” and “Rock Me.” Joking that “I play the music that you can’t hear on the radio anymore,” he made the juke joint jump on “Five Long Years” and a soul stirring read of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” while using his guitar as a drum, back scratcher and dental floss to create visceral sounds of music that somehow fit right into the mood of the moment.
Towards the end of the evening, Guy brought back the young protégé’Sullivan, as they jammed like Smuckers on a smoking read of “Strange Brew,” “Voodoo Child” and “Sunshine of Your Love.” At the close of the concert, Guy opened up his true heart, that while he gives off the image as a ribald minstrel, he is humbled by where he’s come from, appreciative of where he is, and as a church goer (believe it or not!) is grateful for his eternal home. Closing the concert, the entire group got together with a gospel message of hope on “Skin Deep,” reminding the packed theatre what’s really important in life, and what you can and cannot take with you after the last blues chord has been played.
Upcoming shows at the Canyon Club, Saban, Libbey and Rose include Robert Cray 07/28, John Waite 07/29, Albert Lee 08/18, Stephen Stills & Judy Collins 09/01, Larry Carlton 09/03, Al Di Meola 09/15,Dave Mason 09/23, The Drifters 10/15 and Johnny Rivers 10/18