Bluesfest Review: Buddy Guy, Sue Foley put the ‘blues’ in Bluesfest

Buddy Guy / Sue Foley
RBC Ottawa Bluesfest

Bluesfest gave its long-serving devoted what they’ve been asking for all these years with a double-shot of true blues Tuesday as hometown hero Sue Foley heated up the stage for the long-awaited return of the legend himself, Buddy Guy.

The 82-year-old (quickly to be 83) Louisiana-born bluesman wore a large smile as he strutted out on the Vidéotron Stage on the competition’s quieter north facet — with an older and far mellower crowd than the one which turned up for KYGO on the important stage — sporting his trademark black-and-white polka-dot shirt and his well-worn Stratocaster slung over his shoulder.

He launched straight into Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues, from the 1991 album that cemented Guy’s stature amongst the better of the legendary electrical Chicago bluesmen.

“Did I play that too loud?” he half-apologized as his solo screamed to a crescendo.

“No!” the crowd shot again as Guy’s smile grew wider.

“That’s good, because I’m gonna get loud,” he pledged. “I can also play something so funky you can smell it!”

Buddy Guy performs at RBC Bluesfest on Tuesday, July 9, 2019Photo by Sean Sisk/RBC Bluesfest



He was rattling proper about that, too, kicking off the slinky bass riff of Willie Dixon’s I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man.

The solely drawback was it may not have been fairly loud sufficient, as that tune’s slow-building and deliberate intro was almost drowned out by the throbbing electro bass beats of KYGO wafting over the hillside from the important stage on the reverse finish of LeBreton Flats.

“I taught myself to play guitar, and I listened to a lot of the great bluesmen who are no longer with us,” he stated throughout a mid-set break. “I got to make a lot of records with those guys, and we all promised each other that whoever is left would keep the blues alive.”

Buddy Guy performs at RBC Bluesfest on Tuesday, July 9, 2019Photo by Sean Sisk/RBC Bluesfest



He did simply that, reeling off a medley of his favourites, from the basic Boom Boom by John Lee Hooker — “As far as I’m concerned the greatest guitar player I ever heard,” Guy stated — to basic cuts from B.B King and Albert King.

And Guy didn’t cease there.

One of the first bluesmen to really embrace the British wave of longhaired Sixties rock n’ rollers — who largely constructed their early careers by ripping riffs straight out of that very same basic blues catalogue — Guy demonstrated precisely how these sounds had been born when he teased out Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love (utilizing a drum persist with smash out the basic rock riff), and sprinkling in bits of The Rolling Stones’ Miss You for good measure earlier than touchdown on an impressed sing-along run by way of Take Me to the River.

The music should preserve him younger, as Guy was wanting spry as he surveyed the crowd — a lot of them possible round the Bluesfest scene when he first performed the competition again in 1995, an version the place Guy additionally occurred to share the stage with Sue Foley.

Sue Foley on the Videotron Stage as day 5 of the RBC Bluesfest takes place on the grounds of the Canadian War Museum. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia

Wayne Cuddington /


Taking the Vidéotron Stage for the night set, Foley was radiant in a studded white blazer and darkish shades, together with her trademark pink paisley Telecaster and her orange hair flashing in the burning sundown off the Ottawa River.

Opening with the straight-up Texas boogie of Run, a tune flush with the unmistakable sound of her guitar hero Albert Collins, Foley saved it pure and easy when it got here to her solo, favouring that “power of one note” that Collins famously employed over the flashier soloists who journey up and down the fretboard.

With rocksteady Toronto-based band mates Tom Bona on drums and Leo Valvasori on bass, Foley alternated between chugging out chunky energy chords and ripping out crystal-clear electrical guitar traces. Never content material to easily simply land on a be aware, Foley as an alternative digs in, stretches out and milks that be aware for all it’s price earlier than shifting on to the subsequent flurry.

She promised to play loads from The Ice Queen, her newest album on the famed Stony Plain label, and a warning for the crowd as she launched Fool’s Gold.

“Don’t believe everything you see or everything you hold … It might just be fool’s gold.”

Sue Foley on the Videotron Stage as day 5 of the RBC Bluesfest takes place on the grounds of the Canadian War Museum. Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Postmedia

Wayne Cuddington /


It was pure gold as the gradual boogie unfolded with Foley grinding out some stinging traces.

The album’s title observe was a spotlight for the locals — Foley talked about she and her band mates had loads of family and friends in the crowd — although it might have been straightforward for anybody there to acknowledge the setting as she sang about hailing from a spot “where the ground stays frozen for more than half the year.”

But if there have been any ice floes nonetheless straggling on the Ottawa River, they’d have immediately melted from the warmth emanating off the night stage.

The Ice Queen featured Foley’s first actual prolonged solo, and he or she made the absolute most of it together with her hybrid of thumb-and-fingerpicking — as an alternative of utilizing a guitar choose — that provides every be aware an alternating smooth, brushing sound or a driving assault.

The odd styling made excellent sense when Foley defined she used to take flamenco guitar classes in Ottawa, and confirmed off a little bit of what she integrated into her personal blues fashion on The Dance, adopted by the conventional Cannonball Blues, a tribute to Mother Maybelle Carter and all the nice blueswomen who proceed to encourage her.

She’s the one inspiring others now, although, and he or she confirmed why, inviting her friends in the Texas Horns to shut issues out with a livid double-shot of Texas blues on The Lucky Ones and Gaslight.



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