“Buddy is in the House!”

That’s what they told us at Buddy Guy’s Legends last night although we did not spot him. He still tours despite pushing 80 years of age and supposedly hangs at the club in Chicago when he’s not on the road. They open the doors for dinner and have what they call an “acoustic” set, last night it was Eddie Taylor, Jr. and he played electric guitar and sang without a band. The volume was low so I suppose that qualifies. He was excellent, the only bad part was a loud party that showed near the end of the set and blabbed non-stop. Sheesh people, if you are making more noise than everyone else in the room you are being rude. I get that people want to have a good time but why go listen to music and then spend the whole time running your mouths and playing with your iphones? We had some delicious crab cakes to start and I also ordered a plate of the fried okra. The pieces were smothered in batter but I found I could crack them open and pluck out the little morsels with my fork. The beer selection was weak, and Buddy’s signature beer was not very good, but entrees were great. I had crawfish etouffe and Sue had Cajun salmon. We decided to stay for the main act and the staff came around to collect a ten-buck cover charge and give you a stamp. Turned out it was a jam night. Brother John Kattke opened things and then he hosted the rest of the evening. The man can really rock the blues guitar and he also sang and played keyboards. His band was multi-talented, the trumpeter doubled on the keyboard and both the tenor and baritone saxophonists did as well and both also sang. It was some blistering, high-energy R&B and we loved it. The trumpeter muted his horn on one number which always sounds wonderful and when the bari sax guy dropped down to the lower registers for those rumbling honks I thought I was going have a pulmonary embolism. They cranked up the volume for the band and that drowned out the douchey bunch (they kept at it, though), but the level was just about perfect. Not so loud it hurts your ears (no ringing this morning) but loud enough to get you fired up. Numerous other musicians took the stage and all were terrific and played with style and verve. Lots of long, extended pieces with multiple solos. One of the guitarists looked like a refugee from an Allman Brothers tribute band but played some spectacular riffs with vocals to match. At one point I swear he was channeling Captain Beefheart! I can’t remember his name, nor can I remember the name of the keyboardist who blew everyone away with some soulful, acrobatic pieces of jaw-dropping skill. We really wanted to see some blues here in Chi-town and Buddy Guy’s fit the bill perfectly as it was just a few blocks from our room.

The club is in the heart of The Loop, an upscale area just south of downtown and east of the Chicago River. It’s a neighborhood with a lot of high-end hotels and there are plenty of tourists. It’s a spacious, comfortable, friendly place with a good vibe that seems to have a solid local crowd. I know I’ve never been in a music venue with such spotless bathrooms. The men’s room even had an attendant. You can stand on the street corner outside and watch the show as they have a TV in the window behind the bar that faces Wabash Avenue!

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