Sight Unsound: The Guy with the hardware, Memphis exports

Thursday, Nov. 8
A testament to Buddy Guy’s far-reaching influence (see below) is the Philadelphia-based Deb Callahan Band.
This is an electric blues band fronted by a social worker with a passion for justice and the voice of an alcoholic angel.

Like Buddy Guy, Callahan has developed into a competent performing songwriter but is becoming best known for her soulful interpretations of other people’s tunes. Currently touring in support of The Blue Pearl, Callahan and friends drop by Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar (230 E. Main St., 582-9945) on Thursday. Showtime is 9 p.m., cost is $5.

Thursday, Nov. 8
Whiskey & Co. embody old-school country and early rock ’n’ roll. And, it is probably no coincidence that they make albums for a punk label. Their latest effort for No Idea Records, Leaving the Nightlife, is a delightfully irreverent honky-tonk collage that comes close to representing what they do as a live act. Fortunately for us, these whiskey-sodden rockers will join punk-country favorites Lucero and witty second-generation tunesmith Bobby Bare Jr. for a raucous concert at Headliners (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088) Thursday night.

Lucero frontman/guitarist Ben Nichols told LEO that he and his bandmates hooked up with Whiskey & Co. when the band played in Whiskey’s hometown of Gainesville, Fla., and in them found a group of ideal tourmates. Nichols doesn’t hide his excitement about the current tour, even if there’s an undercurrent of fear involved in every trip.

“Fear would be the best way to describe it,” Nichols says. “We could kill ourselves out here, ruin ourselves and our families financially.”

But they haven’t wrecked the van yet, and the songs are still flowing. Nichols says he’s got three tunes in the can for an acoustic EP Lucero hunkers down with after this trek. But Nichols says the band’s not in a hurry like it was writing its last album, Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers. Tix are $12 in advance, $14 at the door, and the show starts at 9 p.m. For more details, go to

Friday, Nov. 9
Over the last 50 years, blues stylist Buddy Guy has won more W.C. Handy awards than anyone can count. He has also scooped up a handful of Grammys and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
However, his critical acclaim and commercial success were not automatic. Guy was 21 when he first settled in Chicago and landed work as a session player on recordings by such notables as Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson.

For many years thereafter, Guy toiled in obscurity at the legendary Chess Records label while his innovative creations were underappreciated and often shelved by the powers-that-be (including Leonard Chess himself).
It was only through Guy’s enormous influence on subsequent generations of players, including Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and later Stevie Ray Vaughn, that his fortunes and status began to change.

In the aftermath of the blues-rock explosion of the late 1960s, Buddy Guy was finally recognized as a visionary and a living legend by people in the know. Still, he was largely overlooked by the masses until another blues revival came along in the late 1980s.

From that point on, sales of Guy’s new releases and remarkably large back-catalog have justifiably skyrocketed, and his high-energy concerts have consistently sold out. Guy’s return visit to the Kentucky Center this Friday will likely do the same. The show at Whitney Hall starts at 8 p.m. For more info, call 562-0144 or visit

Sunday, Nov. 11
Before the Boss, and long before Bon Jovi, there were some other Jersey boys who were mainstays on the rock ’n’ roll hit parade.
For much of the 1960s and ’70s, Frankie Valli and his Four Seasons dominated the pop charts with such classics as “Working My Way Back To You,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” and “Grease.” All told, Valli has had 19 Top 10 singles and has sold more than 100 million records. He was even a convincing mafia captain on “The Sopranos.” Expect a nostalgic night with the Four Seasons when they grace the Whitney Hall stage at the Kentucky Center on Sunday. The all-ages show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35-$75.

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