Review: Buddy Guy–Damn Right Farewell tour w/ Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Buddy Guy appeared at Red Butte Garden for the last time on Monday, September 11, 2023. The 87-year-old Bluesman walked out on stage in his signature polka dot outfit (his mother loved polka dots) and assured us that he could play all night. To reassure us the blues will remain in good hands, he included Christone “Kingfish” Ingram as part of his Damn Right Farewell tour. He opened with “Damn Right, I Got The Blues,” from his Grammy-winning album of the same name. For his second song, he played “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” an enduring classic by his mentor Muddy Waters (and written by the prolific songwriter Willie Dixon). 

But, before he decommissioned his tour bus, he offered up one final lesson in blues history. The stories he told in between songs gave us a glimpse of those important moments—including one where Mick Jagger refused to do the American TV program Shindig unless they brought on Muddy Waters too. Much to Jagger’s horror, the show staffers had never heard of Waters (the Rolling Stones owe their name to one of his songs). White American audiences knew nothing about these Chicago Blues titans the British were imitating. Guy then played another Waters song “She Nineteen Years Old.” 

The blues standards continued when Guy lit up the crowd with “Fever,” a 1950s hit for Little Willie John that Guy covered in 1968, followed by “I Let My Guitar Do The Talking.” It certainly did. 

Photo by Patrick Webster

The music lesson was just getting started. I struggled to keep up with the barrage of blues classics he added to the mix. He jammed with “ I Just Want To Make Love To You,” yet another Dixon-penned classic covered by everybody including Waters, Etta James, and Foghat. Tucked into his guitar licks, he interjected a few bars of Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” and “Purple Haze,” before finally landing on Bobby Rush’s “Chicken Heads.”

After the thrilling ride, we still had a ways to go. Guy launched into “Drowning on Dry Land,” and moved through another medley with  “Cheaper To Keep Her.” Afterward, he set his guitar on an instrument storage case, and using a drumstick as a slide, played the signature riff of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” which morphed into an excerpt of the Talking Heads’ “Take Me To The River.” 

For the rest of the evening, Guy hit us with a dizzying mix of blues standards that blended seamlessly. He started with John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom,” which melded into Jimmy Reed’s “You Don’t Have To Go,” and ended with Junior Wells’ “Love Her With A Feeling.” I even caught a few lines from Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House” that served as a musical exclamation point. 

Kingfish Ingram and Guy’s son Greg joined him on stage to close out the set with an instrumental guitar jam and bid a final goodbye to the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. This was our last chance to see the blues legend before he winds down his life on the road. Though based on the success of his 2022 record The Blues Don’t Lie, and a recent duet with Ally Venable on “Texas Louisiana,” we probably haven’t heard the last of him.

Photo by Patrick Webster

Chicago Blues is alive and well in the hands of the next generation. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, who opened the show with “She Calls Me Kingfish,” is a case in point. He played “Fresh Out,” a 2019 song he recorded with Buddy Guy, and a teaser, “Midnight Heat,” a new song from a soon-to-be-released live album he recorded in London. A full band, featuring drums, bass, and keyboards, accompanied his guitar mastery. For me, the highlight of his terrific six-song set was “Empty Promises,” with its cross-generational bluesy guitar wail that blended “60s psychedelic soul with modern Southern blues. Ingram, at age 24, is one of a growing number of young guitar masters, both male and female, who will carry the blues torch deep into the 21st century.

Who: Buddy Guy w/Christone Kingfish Ingram

What: Damn Right Farewell tour

Where: Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre

When: Monday, September 11, 2023

Info: www.redbuttegarden.org


John Nelson
John Nelsonhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
John Nelson covers the local music scene for Salt Lake magazine. He is a 20-year veteran of Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus with a lifelong addiction to American roots music, live music venues, craft beer and baseball.

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