Somehow, I’ve missed seeing Buddy Guy play at his own club, Buddy Guy’s Legends, for all these years. And now, the club soon become history. I believe I was the first journalist to report that Guy is losing his lease and possibly closing the club for good — or at least moving — with this Dec. 24 interview in the Daily Southtown. It was a blast talking with Guy.
I caught Guy’s concert at his club on Saturday, Jan. 20, just one of 14 shows he is playing in January. He’s still amazingly spry for his age, so I suspect we’ve got many years of Guy music to come. And this guy still knows how to wring some intense, powerful notes out of his guitar. As always, Guy ventured out in the audience and out onto the street with his cordless guitar. He tossed some Hendrix (“Voodoo Chile”) and Cream (“Strange Brew”) into his set, paying tribute to these artists who were influenced by Guy many years ago. The crowd ate it up.
Incidentally, after the rest of media started reporting on the apparently imminent closing of Legends, the landlord, Columbia College, issued this press release on Jan. 9: “Chicago, IL — Mark Twain once remarked that news stories about his own death were ‘greatly exaggerated.’ So, too, are news reports about Buddy Guy’s being evicted from his “Legends” club in Chicago’s South Loop. While it is true that Mr. Guy’s lease on his current location ends in May, Columbia College Chicago, which owns the property, has taken no steps to force his immediate relocation. In fact, the college is prepared to maintain flexibility as ‘landlord’ – but not indefinitely. When Columbia acquired the property in 1999, plans were announced to construct a campus center on that particular parcel. Intended use of the site is no surprise to Mr. Guy. That intent was reinforced when the current lease was negotiated two years ago. As has been indicated in the past, the college is willing to talk with Mr. Guy about continuing to rent the facility to Legends until a timetable for new construction is identified.”
Back in December, a Columbia spokeswoman had told me the college wanted Guy to vacate the space when his lease was up, though the college was willing to be flexible and give him some additional time before he left. With the new press release emphasizing Columbia’s willingness to talk, I wonder if the college is backing off? In any case, I do hope Buddy Guy’s Legends survives, either at this location or elsewhere.
Click here or on the above picture to see my photos of Buddy Guy and opening act Carl Weathersby. (I wasn’t able to get too close to the stage at the crowded club on Saturday, so I’m not too thrilled with the pictures I took, but at least they prove I was there.)