Buddy Guy plays 150 shows a year and releases a new album every 24 months, and his take on the blues, expressed through his plaintive voice and virtuosic guitar, is still scorching. On The Blues Is Alive and Well, out now on RCA/Silvertone, his impassioned campaign is two-pronged: Pay homage to his elders and make sure the genre still has a place in the world. In more than three dozen albums over six decades, the 81-year-old has yet to compromise: “Fashions come and go,” he says, “but the blues ain’t ever going out of style. The blues is the truth.”
Is your album title wishful thinking or reality?
Both. Truth is, I’m worried about the blues. When B.B. King was still alive, we had long talks about why, outside of satellite, the radio don’t play no blues. On the other hand, I got me some youngsters. My protégé Quinn Sullivan is 19, but I discovered him when he was 8. Cat named Kingfish Ingram from the [Mississippi] Delta, just out of high school, is also playing serious blues. I paid for his record. I’d pay anything to make sure this music does what it’s always meant to do: Let people know they ain’t alone. See, we all got the blues. That’s the human condition. But those blues don’t mean we got to grieve. Those blues will warm your heart. When the groove gets to your gut, those blues, brother, turn sad to glad.