by Lynn Orman Weiss
“Thank you very much, I’m not used to getting a standing >ovation,” said Buddy in response to his acceptance of his 8th Grammy Award. The best part of the Grammy Awards for me is the pre-telecast held at the Staples Center auditorium three hours prior to the televised Grammy Awards show. The audience is filled with members of the academy, their guests, record company executives, producers, writers, engineers, composers, music & filmmaker industry folk and of course the artists who wait anxiously in their seats for their nomination to be lauded or not. We waited eagerly for the Americana category to begin about an two hours into the pre-telecast. My row was lined with blues friends, Thomas Ruf from Ruf Records, Alastair Green, Amy Brat, Amanda Gresham, nominee, Cedric Burnside, nominee for Best Historical Album and album notes, William Ferris (who won).
We looked for Buddy and Tom Hambridge (Buddy’s longtime producer and co-songwriter). As category #29 approached we sat perched in our seats waiting for the announcement. The category was hosted by Hawaiian musician and two time Grammy Award winner, Kalani Pe’a. As he called off the nominees name and then opened the envelope to announce,“The Blues Is Alive and Well, Buddy Guy” was the winner he quickly jumped to the conclusion that Buddy was not there as he looked stage left and didn’t see blues master, Buddy Guy approach the stage and stand right behind him. “I guess the academy will have to accept,” he continued before he saw the swift entrance of Tom Hambridge come to the stage and Buddy beside him.
The audience ROARED. Buddy said, “I’m more surprised than ever because that’s the way blues has been treated, see he wasn’t even looking at me he was looking at someone else. The audience loved the raw and candid acceptance and immediately rose to their feet with a rousing standing ovation. “Somebody Loves The Blues – So I don’t get this too often,” said Buddy. Although his super fans know that every night in January is a standing ovation for Chicago’s Very Own master of the Blues.
He went on to thank his record label, RCA for putting up with him and the man who shared the stage with him, Tom Hambridge. This was Buddy’s eighth Grammy Award and now three of them with Tom, they also received Grammy Awards in 2010 for “Living Proof” and 2015 for “Born to Play Guitar.” With two Blues categories back on the nomination voters list since 2012 has given artists like Buddy Guy to have his CDs nominated in both categories. This year’s Traditional Blues Album or Best Traditional Blues Recording nominees were, Buddy Guy, Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper, Maria Muldaur, Elvin Bishop and Cedric Burnside.
The Blues Award began at the beginning of the Grammy Awards known as the Gramophone Awards in 1958. It was just one category until 1983 until 2011 when the Academy added the Traditional Blues category to Contemporary Blues category. It was temporarily merged into one category from 2012 until 2016 and in 2017 reinstated when Buddy’s good friend from Louisiana, Bobby Rush won his first Grammy Award at 83 years old. “Muddy Waters, T Bone Walker, Arthur Crudup I accept this in their honor,” said Buddy. This is an echo from the past receiving this award shows my commitment to them for keeping the blues alive. They told me, if you stay here longer than I do please remember me.”
IN THE ONE ON ONE ROOM AT THE GRAMMY AWARDS:
Buddy passionately spoke about the next generation of the blues players giving a nod to Kingfish the young guitarist from Clarksdale, Mississippi and Quinn Sullivan (who Buddy has mentored since he was seven years old) – “and now he is 19 years old and has the soul of a 70 year old,” he beamed. A few of them are digging up the blues and Buddy has given them the opening slot during The Buddy Guy residency in January at Buddy Guy’s Legends that sell out every show. Tom Hambridge has just penned a song for King Fish’s new Alligator Records release that features Buddy.
On the air…. This is always one of Buddy’s sore subjects as he points out all of the radio stations that played the blues back in the 50s and 60s. As I plan my radio show today, The Blues Show on WNUR Radio (The NUR) at Northwestern University I pull my Buddy Guy favorites including, “Cognac” and “Old Fashioned” from the newly crowned CD, “The Blues Is Alive and Well”
“Skin Deep” from “One Day Away” from “Rhythm & Blues” which debuted at #1 Billboard Magazine Blues Chart and my opening track, “Meet Me in Chicago” …. It is not mainstream radio that is keeping the blues alive, but independent radio stations, college and Sirius XM. But, if it was up to Buddy Guy as he said in the room to the media he would like to see the Blues get as much airplay as Hip Hop. “The blues talks about good times and bad times and doesn’t have half the bad language used in Hip Hop,” added Buddy.
This has been an extraordinary 82nd birthday for Buddy Guy. Receiving his 8th Grammy Award, a Blues Marker in his hometown of Lettsworth, Louisiana, a highway with his name on it, a special feature by Steve Sanders on WGN television filmed in Lettsworth and a Blues Music Award nomination. So well deserved for all of his accomplishments he deserved the standing ovation and the accolades from the media. Buddy was the only artist featured on the masthead of USA Today the Monday following the Grammy Awards. Buddy is Living Proof that the Blues is Still Alive and Well.
“I started with the Blues and I’ll Finish with The Blues,” – Buddy Guy
Written by: Lynn Orman Weiss, Chicago based media specialist, journalist, photojournalist, DJ and producer for, WNUR, The Blues Show, Continental Drift; WLUW, Live From The Heartland Radio Show, contributing writer to Buddy Guy Magazine and Blues Festival Guide. Longtime publicist and archivist/historian for Legends, David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards, Ella Jenkins, Eddy ‘The Chief’ Clearwater, Bobby Rush, Mary Lane. Independent producer and fierce activist on behalf of music rights for artists and co-founder of the Music Revolution to End Homelessness for A Safe Haven Foundation. Lynn has a traveling photography show she curated, Women of the Blues: A Coast To Coast Collection and a Buddy Guy exhibit honoring Buddy Guy and his brother Phil Guy with Allen Winkler, OWL Music & Media and a new record label, Women of the Blues Records. Lynn is a member of the Blues Foundation and National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences which she served a four year term as vice president and on the Board of Governors. www.ormanmusicmedia.com www.owlmusicmedia.com www.womenoftheblues.com
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