Buddy Guy - guitar, vocals; Junior Wells - vocals, harmonica; Kenny Ray - bass; Douglas Fagen - tenor saxophone; Philip Guy - guitar; Merle Perkins - drums
In early January of 1978, Buddy Guy and the Junior Wells Blues Band took to the Bottom Line stage for a three-day showing of classic funky blues. At the time of this performance, both Buddy Guy and Junior Wells were renowned blues musicians—Buddy Guy a powerful guitarist who played with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and whom Eric Clapton once described as the best guitar player alive, and Junior Wells a notable Chicago blues singer and harmonica player who at 16 years old, was playing alongside Muddy Waters and other legendary jazz and blues figures. Needless to say, the dynamic presence of these two musical powerhouses crafted a soulful and invigorating onstage presence that this audience was clearly thrilled to be a part of.
Wells and Buddy Guy teamed up in 1965, commencing a long-running touring and recording partnership that ended in the 1990s, so by the time they played this show in New York City, they were comfortable with one another and certainly had a special onstage camaraderie. They released a number of blues albums together, most recently at the time of this show Live at Montreux in 1977, and the year following this performance they released Pleading the Blues.
This night's performance is kicked off with an instrumental jam before running into "The Thrill is Gone," a Rick Darnell/Roy Hawkins composition made quite famous by B.B. King, and also covered by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. For over an hour, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells put on a funk-driven blues show, driven by the two frontmen's gregarious demeanors. Several selections are instrumental cuts that showcase the bands' musical chops, and a 10-minute "Help Me" is among the highlights.
Overall, this is a wonderful testament to authentic funky blues delivered by two of the more influential figures in music.