“Bluesfest Byron Bay, Please Welcome, Blues Legend, Mr Buddy Guy!”
A ROAR fills the big blue tent on the balmy Autumn night on the Tyagerah Tea Farm Down Under. Veteran Bluesfesters and those more green around the gills, all turn into giddy schoolkids when they see their hero materialise onto the stage. And then, within 2 seconds, the sound. The riff. That’s Buddy Guy! It’s Buddy Guy! It’s really Buddy Guy right in front of us!
Can you feel it? The photograph above shows this moment, but from backstage. Buddy Guy about to take the stage, with his Guitar Technician, Chris Bynum standing by. Buddy has just stood up, after sitting in quiet darkness for over 5 minutes, ready, waiting for his time. He can now hear the words as the announcer introduces him and the crowd (full capacity, overflowing outside the tent into the festival grounds) are a droning hum of jittery excitement.
Shortly before this, I was scouting backstage vantage points to ensure I had the best view when Buddy took to the stage, I was walking nearby the man himself, sitting quietly in his chair, and overheard the Stage Manager begin his rundown to Buddy, he obviously mentioned me as part of that, because I then heard Buddy say, “I have my own photographer?” So I discreetly went up to Buddy after the Manager left, knelt down by his chair, briefly introduced myself and gently took his hand, and somewhere between a handshake and a reassuring holding of hands, introduced myself and said “I am your personal photographer for the next two nights, I was sent by Legends and I’m also doing a story for BG Blues and Music News”. He seemed tickled to have his own photographer, and I sure was tickled to be his photographer.
No one was more important to me than Mr Guy during my time on site. I doubt Buddy remembered me from 2014 at the Sydney Opera House, we didn’t meet back then either. I don’t know if he’s seen my photographs of him yet or if he likes them, but I like to think he took a shine to me, you’ll see why at the end of this story.
“A ROAR fills the big blue tent on the balmy Autumn night…”
Of course the main highlight was the music by the man himself.
Buddy Guy, and his awesome band, the Damn Right Blues Band, performed exclusively at the Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 April, 2017.
Buddy performed at 9pm on Saturday night and was in fine form.
It was a religious experience for the audience, including Buddy parting the crowd to the right of stage, just like Moses and the Red Sea, except this was a sea of disciples, and they were all shades of Blue.
On Sunday night Buddy performed at 5:30pm, again in fine form, but this time parted the crowd to the left of stage (just to keep us on our toes).
There were many familiar faces in the crowd.
Every face, of every age, all beaming back at Buddy.
More Photos in the BG B&MN Gallery
Be sure to check out the online gallery at BG Blues and Music News online: bg.buddyguy.com for more of Lea’s photos from Buddy’s recent trip Down Under.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The people Buddy depends on most (besides the Damn Right Blues Band) are Buddy’s Road Manager, Max Maxson (pictured above left) and his Guitar Technician, Chris Bynum (pictured above right and below). These men are dedicated to ensuring everything goes smoothly for Buddy, each step of the way that they’re responsible for.
Essentially, Max makes sure Buddy has everything he needs offstage, and Chris makes sure he has everything he needs onstage.
Max was last seen shepherding Buddy, and encouraging him to put a coat on, because the night air was “a bit chilly” in Byron.
I first spoke to Chris when I saw him lovingly cleaning BG’s guitars, post show (see photos), recently shared his new BG invention: a non-spilling (think Tim Austin’s big beats) Cognac holding table.
Chris has served under the likes of Leonard Cohen, so knows legends. Chris sang Buddy’s praises many times, but the best thing he said, and it’s so true, is that Buddy has “the best smile in the business”.
Magic Musician, Magic Man, Magic Smile
“the best smile in the business”
– Chris Bynum, Buddy’s Guitar Technician
Until Next Time…
The image to the right shows Buddy holding his customary white face towel, that he also plays guitar with and then, usually, will give it to a selected member of the audience, The photographer of this photo (also the author of this story) had to put the camera aside after realising that she was being offered it, as you can see in this photograph. What an honour! We’ll treasure it and that moment forever Buddy Guy. Just like we will treasure the moment we shook your hand before you took the stage, and transformed from a demure, softly spoken gentleman, into a strutting, electric, tiger!
A tiger AND music legend that age does not define.
Thank you Buddy. See you through the lens again very soon!