Phil Guy younger brother of the legendary Buddy has been wrapped up in blues music since he arrived on the planet back in 1940 four years after Buddy. Just like Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother Jimmy, the Guy brothers have their own individual musical personality and approach to playing the blues and although Phil has stood in his brothers legendary shadow over the years he has also carved out a respectable niche for himself as a guitarist and performer.
Phil was consistently good from start to finish in this Bleu Note performance and much of the credit for this lies in the truly wonderful support provided by the Lee Hedley Band with the empathetic and marvellously inventive guitarist Blue Lou Campbell providing perfect guitar power accompaniment for this master post war Chicago Bluesman.
Lee on Vocals and Harp, Aaron on Bass, Bobby on Drums and Blue Lou on Guitar created a winning atmosphere to pave the way for Phil Guy’s arrival on stage with frighteningly good versions of Treat Her Right, On The Road Again, Tuff Enuff and Hoochie Coochie Man.
Phil makes it look easy sliding into the notes on his Fender Telecaster on classics like The Things That I Use To Do, Last Time, Sky Is Crying and Little By Little and when he settled into a slow and easy blues groove you could close your eyes and find your ears digging the same vibe as some pure Junior Wells Hoodoo Man Chicago Blues my favourite recording featuring Phil’s brother Buddy with Junior Wells , Jack Myers on Bass and Billy Warren on Drums.
The Lee Hedley Band rhythm section, Bobby Dyer on drums and Aaron Loughran on bass were at their magnificent best converting every signal from Phil into solid chunks of genuine roadhouse electric blues with the star of the previous weeks show Bobby Dixon sitting in on keyboards and taking some well executed solos.
Each song sounded fresh and vital reminding me how good the blues can be and how it should be with an appealing performer, a good time atmosphere bunch of musicians on the stage ,with a sound that is rich and full bodied, making, shaking and sharing good blues music live in Dublin.
Phil Guy’s stage persona is much different than that of his brother Buddy, whose high energy moves on stage primarily influenced a young Jimi Hendrix, whereas Phil employs a no effect’s approach to his stage demeanour preferring to let his fingers do the talking with his killing floor riffs on his Fender Telecaster.
Phil has got an experienced funkier side to his craft and its no problem for him to take it to the bridge on a James Brown tribute or Rolling Stones Miss You vibe and diversify into some ZZ Hill and Little Walter seamlessly for some down home blues shuffles.
When older brother Buddy left the family home in Lettsworth Louisiana at seventeen, the then thirteen year old Phil took down Buddy’s old acoustic and started teaching himself to play. After a few years as Buddy made his way from band to band from Baton Rouge to Chicago, younger brother Phil would fill the vacancy left behind by his talented brother, honing his skills in outfits like The Raful Neal Band and Slim Harpo and eventually joining Buddy’s Band in Chicago in 1969.
Pretty soon the Guy Brothers were opening for The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton on European Tours and Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead and The Band back on the American circuits.
Phil has backed up many of his contemporary blues cohorts on guitar from Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton, Son Seals and Albert Collins as well as deviating into soul and funk and disco outfits over the years in order to solve the commercial nature of his craft.
Phil Guy never gets to fancy and never forgets the importance of the groove and keeps the time honoured standards surprisingly fresh with plenty of stride and stomp and a real solid backbone to each tune.
Phil initially cut his teeth on Jimmy Reed and the funkier James Brown tunes and when he gets an irresistible groove going he fills the dance floor with his blend of soulful Chicago blues with gyrating hips and flailing air guitarists bouncing out of their seats including two veteran live blues supporters on the scene Southside Eddie and Southside Pat nodding on in approval.
Each song was elevated to a sublime level of intensity by the guitar, bass & drums of the Lee Hedley Band with charismatic front man Phil blowing up a storm on his solid Blues Harp measures all the way. Phil Guy’s stinging concise style along with his rough plaintive vocal style delivered a pants on fire hard driving pace on top of the Lee Hedley chassis and four wheel rollicking roadhouse tinged rhythm & soulful blues backdrop.
The time just flew in and before I knew it we were walking out the door of the Bleu Note at 3am exhausted and elated by another great live Chicago Blues performance on Capel Street, Dublin shining a well deserved light on the scintillating talents of Phil Guy and the dazzling support of the Lee Hedley Band.
“The sky is crying can’t you see the tears roll down the street”