There's no telling who will end up with the best seat in the house when Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy performs.
Headlining Wolf Trap's Jazz and Blues Festival on Sunday, the recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee took one of his customary strolls midway through the show. Electric guitar strapped across his white overalls, Guy wandered through the pavilion, pausing to serenade an usher with a few sly licks and delighting fans with squalling bursts of blue notes. He might have stayed longer if he hadn't broken a guitar string.
Guy opened his concert with a refreshing acoustic set that recalled his southern roots and early Chicago connections, most notably to Muddy Waters. Then Guy gave fair warning: "The quiet is over." Leading a seasoned band and drawing on vintage tunes such as "You Give Me Fever" and more recent album cuts including "Feels Like Rain," Guy displayed his signature guitar attack while juxtaposing whispered tones and thunderous flurries. Unfortunately, he also tried to demonstrate his versatility by replicating guitar sounds associated with John Lee Hooker, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Given the time constraints, it wasn't a smart move, and Guy sold himself short.
Preceding Guy onstage was Susan Tedeschi's band, featuring the terrific pianist-organist William Green. The set followed a mostly familiar pattern, highlighted by Tedeschi's impassioned version of "It Hurts So Bad" and an encore of "Angel From Montgomery." But it also boasted a few songs from an upcoming album, including Tedeschi's soulful tributes to Bobby "Blue" Bland and Dakota Staton.
-- Mike Joyce