CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bluesman Jonny Lang, finishing up his powerhouse 90-minute set, said he had to get off the stage to let Buddy Guy come out, "and tear the roof off the place."And that's pretty much what the 76-year-old blues legend did: he tore the roof off, though credit where credit is due. Lang loosened things up considerably.Sunday night at the Clay Center was a great night for fans of the blues. Lang and Guy put on a fantastic show of rocking blues that brought a little bit of Chicago to Charly West.It wasn't a sold-out show, but really, on a weekend like this past one, a sellout for anybody seemed unlikely. The problem was too much competition and a lot of it at the Clay Center. Saturday night, there was American Idol winner turned country sensation Scotty McCreery. Earlier in the week, there'd been "Riverdance."
Sunday night, Guy and Lang had to compete with a "Mountain Stage" show at the Culture Center, plus the Academy Awards were on television.There was just a lot going on, but a good crowd still turned out for the bluesmen, and they were an enthusiastic audience ready to be dazzled by fancy guitarwork and soulful lyrics.
Lang might have had the better night. His voice sounded fantastically soulful and even tortured at points. His guitar solos were mighty towers of sound that seemed to launch into outer space.Guy was great, everything you'd expect from someone who gets called a legend or cited an influence by musicians such as Eric Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughn. Ever the showman, he played with, and to, the crowd, but his set was plagued by a recurring and somewhat annoying hum that was never completely resolved.He was also, for some reason, bound by the clock. Several of his songs were really just samples and he seemed to be in a rush. Guy kept referring to having to leave, which seemed like a running joke at first, but really wasn't.At roughly 10:45, Guy called it a night.Clearly, he could have gone on. He could have played all night and nobody would have minded. The crowd was hungry for authentic Chicago blues, but I guess when you've got to go, you've got to go. Maybe Guy had to catch a flight home. Maybe there was a contractual issue with the Clay Center.Either way, he left everyone still feeling at least a little hungry for more.