May 09

Eddie C. Campbell at Buddy Guy’s (5/29/2009)

Based on a review in the Chicago Reader, I went to Buddy Guy’s Legends to see Eddie C. Campbell, a bluesman I hadn’t heard of before. He gave an outstanding show and I especially loved the tone of his guitar, which reminded me a little of that of Albert Collins, one of my blues heroes. Campbell played an extremely road-worn magenta Fender Jazzmaster plugged into a Fender Vibrosonic Reverb amp. He didn’t need any effects pedals to play his blues. Campbell is a good example of the fact that you don’t need to play fast to play cool. He really knew how to “milk the notes,” as my teacher says.

His local back-up band consisted of an electric bass and drums, keyboards and second guitar. The latter was played by a young man named Alex. He was a contrast to Eddie Campbell in that he played fast, technically accomplished leads that were impressive, but by comparison seemed to me to lack blues feeling. It was very revealing to see the two styles side by side.

Campbell’s 70th birthday was May 6, so at one point toward the end of the set, Buddy Guy came out to wish him a happy birthday. Guy sang one song in his characteristic style.

Campbell’s latest CD is Tear This World Up (2009) on Delmark Records.

The opener for Campbell was a Chicago-based group called The Cash Box Kings. The leader, Joe Nosek, played very good harmonica and sang. The guitarist was pretty good, though I didn’t care for his tone or style of playing. He played a St. Blues 61 South guitar. Completing the quartet was an acoustic bassist and drummer. I enjoyed the group, especially the harmonica; they had good energy.

The opening acoustic act was Matt Hendricks, who played an electric/acoustic Stella guitar. He played some slide. I enjoyed his playing, but couldn’t understand the words when he sang.