ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 29, 2013
By Steve Newton
The blues world has produced its fair share of guitar-wielding child prodigies. Growing up with family connections to the Allman Brothers, Derek Trucks scored his first paid gig at 11. And Kenny Wayne Shepherd took up guitar at the age of seven, shortly after being mesmerized by the sight of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
“A guy by the name of Buddy Guy came on and played “Sweet Home Chicago’,” he recalls. “And from then on I was just like, ‘Wow, who is this guy that walked on-stage and was just so good—almost terrifyingly good.”
That first Crossroads DVD included performances by a slew of legendary pickers, including B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin, Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin, and, of course, Slowhand himself. But something about Guy’s style captured Sullivan’s imagination.
“The first time you see him play, there’s nobody like him,” he raves. “Being so young and seeing someone doing something that no one else is doing, it was just like, ‘Oh my god!’ ”
A couple years after his visual introduction to Guy, Sullivan got to meet him in the flesh. His father took the eight-year-old to see the blues master perform in New Bedford, and backstage access led to the kid’s musical dream coming true.
“He signed the little Squier Stratocaster that I had at the time,” recalls Sullivan, “and then he asked me to play a few licks, just to see if I could actually play it. I played a few licks for him and he said, ‘Be ready when I call you’.
“I got to go up on-stage with him that night,” he adds, “and ever since then he’s been mentoring me and helping me out. He showed me the world, basically.”
Sullivan recently released his second album, Getting There, produced and co-written by Buddy Guy drummer and collaborator Tom Hambridge. He’s currently performing material from it while opening for Guy on a North American tour that sees him jamming with his idol on whatever tune the 77-year-old legend sees fit to play.
“Buddy’s such a great showman,” notes Sullivan, “that he doesn’t carry a setlist at all, so it’s really his call of whatever we do. It’s kind of a mystery.”