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January 4, 2018

Buddy Guy’s Legends, Chicago

Buddy Guy & Bobby Rush by Roman

by Lynn Orman Weiss

Photos: Roman Sobus

The first concert of Buddy Guy's annual winter residency on Thursday, January 4th was a benefit for PCa Blue, a prostate cancer awareness nonprofit, featuring Bobby Rush as the opener and the one and only, Buddy Guy headlining opening night. Of course, Buddy’s club was packed with fans who braved the cold to see two blues legends together for one great cause. The Buddy residency kick-off evening brought together the two always youthful octogenarians -- both blues masters, both Grammy Award winning recording artists, W.C. Handy/ Blues Music Award winners and Blues Hall of Fame inductees. 

 An autographed signature Fender guitar was raffled off by club emcee Johnny Sims and ironically the winner was Chicago's former Alderman and 2nd Ward's Democratic Committeeman, Robert Fioretti, who is also an advocate for the blues. In perfect Chicago style Fioretti gave back his ticket and pulled a winning raffle ticket for Dallas based, Richard Hollander. "You know I can't accept this, it is the Chicago Way," said Fioretti. 

Jimmy Vivino & Wayne Baker Brooks by Roman
L to R: Jimmy Vivino & Wayne Baker Brooks

Wayne Baker Brooks and Jimmy Vivino (of Conan O’Brien’s TV band fame), later joined by Ronnie Baker Brooks, opened the show with an acoustic set and entertained the sold out audience between Bobby and Buddy's set. Rousing applause and a standing ovation came when they dedicated a portion of their set to their legendary Dad, the late Lonnie Brooks a.k.a. (Guitar Jr.); they played “The Crawl,” one of Lonnie’s early dance hits.

Bobby Rush & Mizz Lowe

 Then it was time for the all-star show with blues titan Bobby Rush -- the 17 time Blues Music Award winner, B.B. King Entertainer of the Year (he was just nominated again on the live feed announcement of the BMA Awards), King of the Chitlin’ Circuit and recent recipient of the 2017 Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album. Bobby was joined by his funky band and sexy dancers, Mizz Lowe and Ericka Henderson. Classic blues, soul and funk heated the stage with an inferno of exotic moves and bawdy lyrics from an older generation that brings naughty foreplay to the stage, but with a sense of laughter and a nod and a wink. From his classic hits, “Chicken Heads” and “Garbage Man” to standards everyone loves to hear, to the title track from his Grammy Award CD, Porcupine Meat, Rush told the audience, "it all had to be FUNky!"

Buddy Guy polka dot shirt by Roman

In between Bobby and Buddy there was an appeal from Johnny Sims, Legends’ stage manager and emcee. He brought out the autographed guitar and they pulled the winner. Then it was star time again: Buddy made his signature appearance strutting on stage in his polka dot tailored shirt and black overalls. His show would have put third degree burns on the audience with the way he heated up the stage performing songs he penned like, “Born To Play Guitar” and the sentimental favorite by Buddy and Tom Hambridge, “Skin Deep”. He continued with a mash up of his favorite guitarists, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and, of course, Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed.

But, the most fun part of the night came when Buddy called his best buddy Bobby Rush, up on stage to join him in a spontaneous song-sparring moment where they made up lyrics; Buddy played guitar and Bobby played his harp.

Buddy Guy & Bobby Rush by Amanda Gresham
Bobby & Buddy, Mizz Lowe / photo: Amanda Gresham

"We are just two old men in love," declared Bobby Rush. For the young man who took the route of Rush Street and The Chitlin’ Circuit and the other young man who went from the West Side of Chicago to the major stages of Crossroads Festival, The Experience Hendrix Tour and major shows with all the British rock stars, Bobby Rush and Buddy Guy are now on the same blues journey to keep on loving and playing the blues and hopefully saving a few men's lives along the way.


How PCa Blue met The Blues

John Lupton the founder of PCa Blue had a vision to connect the dots between blues and the prostate cancer cause. John, a legislator from Atlanta had always been a blues lover. He met Buddy Guy and Carlise Guy shortly after Buddy's brother, Phil passed away from prostate cancer. John was just launching his foundation, PCa Blue an educational organization to bring awareness to the deadly disease. One of the foundation's beneficiaries is the HART Fund of the Blues Foundation. Funds raised help support free PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood testing which the HART Fund provides on location at the IBC, Blues Music Awards and other locations throughout the country. 

 "Thank God for the PSA testing. It may have saved my life," said Andre Taylor a Chicago based blues guitarist who was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Buddy Guy is the national spokesman for PCa Blue and his daughter, Carlise Guy has been a strong advocate for the cause. "We lost our uncle Phil so soon after we found out he had prostate cancer. If we knew earlier we may have been able to save his life."  "Because of our sudden loss we wanted to do something to make a difference echoed," Buddy Guy. John approached Buddy to be the national spokesman for PCa Blue and it seemed like a match in heaven.

 Bobby Rush made his debut performance at Buddy Guy's Legends in November 2016. There in the famed BG corner of Buddy Guy's Legends the two old friends stood talking for the first time in decades. The love between the blues legends hailing from Louisiana was evident. The conversation began about performing together and Buddy invited Bobby to join him in January of 2017 for Buddy month. Bobby is no stranger to cancer as he lost his sister and son to the disease.

I approached Bobby that January and asked him to join PCa Blue in our crusade of saving men's lives through prostate cancer awareness and education.

That was the beginning of this wonderful path of two great legends for one great cause. John Lupton was so honored to have both blues men on board to help amplify the message and to connect the dots between blues and the prostate cancer cause. 

The first concert planned was April 2nd with Buddy Guy and Bobby Rush, The Bo Keys and Southern Avenue in Memphis. Two days before the concert John Lupton died from complications from cancer that had traveled into his lungs. Our musical director, Wayne Baker Brooks, along with Carlise Guy and Bobby Rush, were on ABC TV, WREG with Alex Coleman promoting the benefit concert when the news arrived via text.

That evening Wayne Baker Brooks and I put together our production schedule and script honoring John Lupton. Sadly that evening, Wayne's father, Lonnie Brooks died. It was a very sad and surreal time. It was April 1, 2017.

Ivy Ahmed, the CEO, was in the hospital recovering from surgery. As a lone soldier I had to carry on the vision of John Lupton and as Wayne said, "the show must go on."

Since then, Ivy Ahmed and I have carried on John's vision.

PCa group shot at Buddy Guy's Legends by Roman

 For more information on PCa Blue and how to host a benefit concert in your

city please contact, Lynn Orman Weiss,


 Make a donation online and enter to win a Buddy Guy autographed signature polka dot guitar.


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