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Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Buddy Guy story

Three years ago I got the chance to interview Buddy Guy. I spent an hour talking with him at his club and it's probably the highlight of my professional career. At the time I was editor of The Naperville Sun, and the entertainment editor said she'd run the story if I wrote it. So I called down to his club and talked to a publicist and arranged an interview.
For years it seems, the stories would pop up during Buddy's January shows that his club Legends was closing, because Columbia College owned the land and wanted to expand its campus. When I went down to talk to him in late 2006 it was no different. We went upstairs to a lounge and had a great conversation. I'd ask questions but I think he'd heard them all before in different ways so when he'd answer he'd end up talking about something completely different. Which is fine when you're Buddy Guy! Usually he'd get into telling a story and it was great hearing it, even if he had told it a million times before, like when he was managing a club in Joliet and Sonny Boy Williamson was drinking all night but would still get up and play no problem.
So since I was there in a professional capacity it didn't feel right asking to have my picture taken with Buddy but I wish I had. He did autograph a book for me, a biography someone had written about 10 years earlier that was out of print by then. When I got up to leave he opened this little minfridge and pulled out a Mason jar with clear liquid--it was Kentucky moonshine. We did a shot together and it was great stuff, very smooth! I felt on top of the world. My article ran a few weeks later, got picked up by the Sun-Times (sort of--I think they just assigned someone to write it) but it touched off the usual round of buzz that Buddy's might be closing.
This year it looks like he's finally really going to make the move a block north on Wabash. I'm going to the show tonight and it should be very special--the last time Buddy plays a January show at the location where his club has been for 20 years.
Tonight will be special for another reason. A group of Slowiks has been going down to a Buddy January show for many, many years now. Frank typically organizes the expedition. Anyway, our brother Jim was at the show a year ago. Jim died suddenly about a month later. That show at Buddy's was the last time I saw him. I miss you, Jim.