9 Songs, 54 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Even though it was released on the British rock label Silvertone, Buddy Guy’s 2001 album Sweet Tea is in fact a tribute to the Oxford, Mississippi-based label Fat Possum. Best known for recording and promoting a host of unknown and highly idiosyncratic old blues guitarists from backwoods Mississippi, Fat Possum’s mission was to undermine the traditional blues scene, which by the '90s had become codified and highly gentrified. In a way, the Fat Possum artists posed a challenge to name brand players like Guy, but “Baby Please Don’t Leave Me” and “She’s Got the Devil In Her” are powerful examples of Guy’s ability to embrace the feral aesthetic of Fat Possum without mimicking its artists. The guitarist does a manful job of interpreting Junior Kimbrough’s hypnotic groove with “Stay All Night” and “Tramp,” but he also pays tribute to T-Model Ford’s thrashing runs with the violent “Look What All You Got.” It’s hard to believe a smooth operator like Guy could handle the idiosyncrasies of Robert Cage, CeDell Davis and R.L. Burnside, but the proof is in Sweet Tea.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Even though it was released on the British rock label Silvertone, Buddy Guy’s 2001 album Sweet Tea is in fact a tribute to the Oxford, Mississippi-based label Fat Possum. Best known for recording and promoting a host of unknown and highly idiosyncratic old blues guitarists from backwoods Mississippi, Fat Possum’s mission was to undermine the traditional blues scene, which by the '90s had become codified and highly gentrified. In a way, the Fat Possum artists posed a challenge to name brand players like Guy, but “Baby Please Don’t Leave Me” and “She’s Got the Devil In Her” are powerful examples of Guy’s ability to embrace the feral aesthetic of Fat Possum without mimicking its artists. The guitarist does a manful job of interpreting Junior Kimbrough’s hypnotic groove with “Stay All Night” and “Tramp,” but he also pays tribute to T-Model Ford’s thrashing runs with the violent “Look What All You Got.” It’s hard to believe a smooth operator like Guy could handle the idiosyncrasies of Robert Cage, CeDell Davis and R.L. Burnside, but the proof is in Sweet Tea.

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About Buddy Guy

Keith Richards called him the godfather. Eric Clapton likened his impact to Elvis’. And Hendrix reportedly said that heaven was lying at his feet while listening to him play. But Buddy Guy tends to weigh himself a little more modestly: “Music makes people happy,” he said. “And that’s why I go on doing it.” The Louisiana-born guitarist got his footing as a session man with Chicago’s Chess Records. In the years to follow, he synthesized the traditions of Delta blues with a fierce, theatrically modern style, embracing volume and distortion before they were vernacular, sometimes playing with his teeth and feet and using an extra-long cable to wander through the crowd and onto the street, soloing the whole way. As beloved as he is as a player, Guy also serves as an ambassadorial figure, bridging the gap between his generation of collaborators—which includes B.B. King and Junior Wells—and later ones, working first with British blues acolytes like Jeff Beck and The Rolling Stones, then with artists like John Mayer. A sharp wit, Guy sums up his trajectory: “When I went to Chicago, I'll put it like this: I was looking for a dime and I found a quarter.”

HOMETOWN
Lettsworth, LA
GENRE
Blues
BORN
July 30, 1936

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