When: Fri., Sept. 10, 7 p.m. 2010
Buddy Guy is the face of this year's Bull Durham Blues Festival, the headliner who'll bring things to a close tomorrow night at the Durham Performing Arts Center. And rightfully so. Guy's take on the electric blues, a style memorably described by The New York Times' Jon Pareles as a mix of "anarchy, virtuosity, deep blues and hammy shtick," has earned him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And it's a style that has influenced a couple generations of blues-rockers, a roll call that includes Hendrix, Clapton, Beck and Vaughan.
That said, it's not like Guy needs to carry the festival; the supporting cast is exceptionally strong for this year's installment. Kicking off the fest tonight at the Hayti Heritage Center and carrying the blues torch for yet another generation is The Bull City Youth Blues Band. Next up is M.S.G.–The Acoustic Blues Trio, whose Piedmont blues take a traditional stance, and Mel Melton & the Wicked Mojos, who ignore any rules by adding Cajun, zydeco and swamp pop generously to a blues stock. Ruthie Foster wraps up Friday night with an even more compelling blend, using a Texas-blues base as a launching pad for flights of folk, gospel and belt-it-out soul.
On Saturday night, New Orleans' Wild Magnolias promise to captivate both eyes and ears with elaborate costumes and equally stunning rhythms—both of which represent the link between the traditional and the unapologetically funky. And then there's Bettye LaVette, one of the world's best soul singers for 45 years, although it took the world about 40 of those years to realize it. See "Before the Money Came," LaVette's Drive-By Truckers-backed bio for details, and see her new Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook for further proof.
The music starts at 7 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday. Night 1 tickets are $35 and $45, Night 2 are $35–$55. —Rick Cornell