GREAT BARRINGTON -- For those who may have doubted bluesman Buddy Guy’s title as the best guitarist alive, well, you should have been at the Mahaiwe on Friday night.
Guy submitted a glittering 16-song, 90-minute show that highlighted his range and talent as both a singer and musician.
The 77-year-old virtuoso traversed musical genres effortlessly in addition to serving up a tasty gumbo of gutbucket blues standards.
Guy opened with his signature number, "Damn Right I Got the Blues" augmenting a thrilling lead guitar run with a powerful vocal turn, and the show started and stayed on the proverbial high note after that.
"These are songs they don’t play on the radio anymore," said Guy as an intro to Muddy Water’s "Hoochie Coochie Man." That, he admitted "was a terrible shame. Muddy, Howling Wolf and Little Walter were some of the greatest musicians and songwriters of their era."
It has been Guy’s stated mission to keep the genre alive, and on Friday night, at least, he came through beautifully.
After "Hoochie Coochie," came "Hoodoo Man," written and performed by the late Junior Wells. Guy even sang a verse, "the way Junior would have," vocalizing in a decent approximation of Wells’ gravel voice.
After "74 Years Young" and John Lee Hooker’s Boom, Boom," Guy offered up an interesting medley featuring snippets of Motown, British Invasion blues and rock and roll.
Motown was represented by a remarkable a capella version of Marvin Gaye’s "Ain’t That Peculiar." The British Invasion segment was Guy’s version of "Strange Brew" and Guy finished up with "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" performed in the style of Jimi Hendrix.
It was back to the blues at that point, with Guy’s own "Skin Deep", dedicated to his mother, and "(You Give Me) Fever."
The show ended with Guy’s version of "Messin’ With The Kid" by Junior Wells. Guy left the stage to "Jin-go-lo-ba," a world music tune released by Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji in 1960. It was Americanized by Santana as "Jingo" on their 1969 debut album.
Opening act Quinn Sullivan showed the audience why Guy has such affection for him. At 15, Sullivan is a better guitar played than 90 percent of the pros on stage today.
Sullivan opened with a scintillating version of Eric Clapton’s "Got to Get Better in a Little While" and closed the nine-song set with his own composition, "She Gets Me." He also joined Guy on-stage and played the intro to "Voodoo Child." Humble and understanding of his vast good fortune in playing under Guy’s guidance, Sullivan has a bright future.