It was good to see Roy Buchanan performing before a capacity hometown crowd at the Wax Museum Tuesday night. Not just because Buchanan, who was once a fixture of the local club circuit, rarely plays Washington these days, but also because he remains an exceptional rock and blues stylist--a guitarist's guitarist.
He's currently playing with a propulsive rhythm section that features two singers in drummer John Wall and pianist Paul Jacobs, who nicely offset Buchanan's menacing vocals. Wall kicked things off with "I'm a Ram," one of Buchanan's early pieces. Even without a horn section, with nothing going for it other than a funky groove and Buchanan's chicken-scratch patterns, it was hard to resist.
Then came the blues, revealing Buchanan's genius and drive. There are few sounds he can't choke from his Telecaster when he has a mind to. Moans, screams, sustained mournful cries haunted pieces like "Roy's Bluz," while others, including a particularly vengeful version of "Farther On Up the Road" won the audience over by virtue of sheer momentum.
Then, too, there were the howling, other-worldly versions of "Hey Joe" and "Foxy Lady." Granted, Jimi Hendrix-like guitar solos may strike some as old hat, but it's an indication of Buchanan's talent that he brought an unmistakable sense of urgency to both numbers, as well as to equally old tunes such as "I'm Evil."
Well past midnight, after a series of scorching encores, talk among the crowd was unanimous that Buchanan should be playing in Washington a lot more often.