shoulda got Roy’s autograph when I had the chance
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 14, 1986
By Steve Newton
There were some people who felt that Roy Buchanan played way too loud and not nearly enough at the Town Pump last Monday (February 10). Then there were others–like myself–who could care less about such things as long as the 48-year-old guitar hero does what he’s famous for.
Backed by an energetic rhythm section, the veteran player displayed the soul-shaking leads, shimmering tone, and repertoire of snaps, snarls, and wails that have earned him an undying following among blues fans. His first selections included the twelve-bar title track of his latest album, When a Guitar Plays the Blues, and the old standard “Baby What You Want Me To Do”.
“Let’s play some old honk for ya here,” said Roy as he rollicked into an instrumental version of “Mercury Blues”. Then it was time for another new one, “Country Boy”, in which he proudly reaffirmed his roots. “Yeah they call me country/I’m from a country town/The girls are crazy ’bout me/They love what I’m puttin’ down.”
From there Buchanan headed into deep blues with Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” and then took his Marshall amp into the metal realm on another Hendrix song, “Foxy Lady”.
The searing sounds Roy produced on “Foxy” made more than one person on the crammed dance floor take an ear-protecting step backward: but then, Jimi wouldn’t want it any other way. And Roy was only too happy to oblige.
After some more raucous blues Buchanan left the stage and the sold-out crowd brought him back for an encore performance of “The Messiah Will Come Again”, a classic track from his 1972 debut album.
The guitarist showed his lightning speed and some volume-knob wizardy on this tune to elicit that lonesome whistle cry. A second encore–“Johnny B. Goode”–finished things off on a boogie note.
In his dressing room afterwards, Roy sat patiently signing autograph books and album covers and quietly talking strings and intonation with a fan who claimed “I’m a guitarist too.” It seemed rather strange that minutes before this mellow, soft-spoken person had been creating some of the raunchiest guitar sounds known to man.
During the making of his latest album Buchanan was asked about this apparent contradiction between his outward calm and explosive playing style.
“Yeah,” he’s quoted as saying, “but I’m screaming inside.”
Read the interview I did with Buchanan in advance of the show.