Buddy Plan

Blues master Buddy Guy searches for a place in today's music industry.

Finding the time to come up with original stuff won't be easy considering the situation at Legends. Guy doesn't own the property, which was recently donated to nearby Columbia College. As a result, he says, "I've got to move it by this time next year." Columbia doesn't want to be seen as bullying Guy -- in fact, the school gave him an honorary degree a few months back -- and he's got support from no less a personage than Chicago's mayor, Richard M. Daley. "He told me personally, ŒI want you to stay in the South Loop,'" Guy says. "They say I've been a big tourist attraction and it's good for the city." Problem is, "I don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in a building. I spent my last savings to open this one, and I'm seventy years old now. If I spend my last savings again to go into another building, well, you can't make that kind of money back at my age."

The bluesman is equally concerned about a newly approved smoking ordinance that will outlaw puffing in stand-alone bars and taverns come 2008. "I had a guy say to me the other day, ŒWhat's a beer without a cigarette?'" he recalls. "That law is really going to hurt us." Likewise, he feels that increasingly vigilant DUI enforcement will take its toll when Legends moves from its current location: "I'm by the biggest Hilton in Chicago, and when they have conventions, those are my best nights, because people can just walk in off the street. They'll get you for driving under the influence, but they don't usually get you for walking under the influence."

Given all these worries, it's fortunate that Guy's daughter Shawnna is doing so well. She's a rapper and Ludacris protegé, and for her latest Def Jam disc, Block Music, she recruited her father to lay down some licks on a couple of songs -- most notably, one called "Chicago." Involving him in her music represents a change. After all, Guy reveals, "She didn't want me to hear what kind of lyrics they were singing."

Although he's smiling, Buddy Guy's got the blues.
Although he's smiling, Buddy Guy's got the blues.


With the Robert Cray Band and Blind Boys of Alabama, noon Saturday, August 19, Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, 8500 Deer Creek Canyon Road, $45-$50, all ages, www.ticketweb.com

Not that the language would have bothered him. "Some of those old blues cats had that stuff years ago, singing those nasty lyrics," he says. "But you could only do that in the club; they wouldn't record it. Now, with these hip-hoppers making millions and millions of dollars, maybe I should go into the studio and sing one of those old songs with the nasty words. Maybe I'd get some airplay."

If that happened, these would truly be the best of times for Buddy Guy.

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