Wednesday December 2, 2009
This is a Crackerjack review of Buddy Whittington - True Texas guitar legend
Crackerjack rating: 8 / 10.
In his song "Second Banana" Buddy Whittington related how it felt to be an almost anonymous sidesman playing in a band behind a famous name. He should know, because for some 15 years the big Texan was John Mayall’s guitarist, following in the footsteps of such legendary members of his Bluesbreakers as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor and Walter Trout.
Times have changed and Whittington has come out of the shadows and now occupies the main spotlight, playing his own music with his own band. And what a superb band he’d brought with him, comprising Pete Stroud and Roger Cotton of Peter Green’s Splinter Group and Darby Todd, better known as the drummer with Justin Hayward’s band Hot Legs.
Following a highly impressive set from local blues rockers After The Storm, Whittington opened in fiery form with "You Upsets Me" before launching into "Minor Blues" in which he told us about some of the things that "upsets" him. It seemed a pretty long list including drug abuse, homeless people having to live in cardboard boxes, street gangs, overcrowded jails, the justice system and a whole lot more.It was the only song with a strong political message for most of the rest covered subjects like sex, drugs, travelling and music that are perhaps more traditional topics for the blues. One would make a guess that "Young And Dumb", about the follies of youth, may perhaps have been autobiographical.
As well as his own songs there were quite a few versions of the songs of other bluesmen, notably great versions of Freddie King’s "I Love You More And More Every Day" and Gary Nicholson’s Jacksboro’ Highway, both songs that were at one time part of the Mayall repertoire. His version of Leon Russell’s "Help Me Through The Day" was absolutely incredible, as was his gorgeous reading of ZZ Top’s "Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell."
While he is a very strong songwriter and has an excellent bluesy voice, it is of course his awesome guitar playing that sets Buddy Whittington apart. At times he left us open mouthed as fast and furious riffs poured out of his guitar, yet he managed to make the most difficult of stuff seem completely effortless and without even a hint of showmanship. While his style had the attack that is typical of Texas blues-rock he also produced the sweetest of sounds, especially on "Greenwood", something of a homage to Peter Green.
And how he managed to get all those changes of tone from his Fender Strat without the aid of a single effect pedal was simply remarkable.
He may have felt rather anonymous playing behind such an iconic figure as John Mayall, but if every Buddy Whittington gig is as great as this one then you can be sure that the former sidesman will be spending a lot more time in the main spotlight from now on.
Last updated December 3, 2009
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