I just got home from a truly special concert. It’s late and I am completely drained, but I can’t bring myself to go to bed without sharing this experience with you.
I went to see blues legends B.B. King and Buddy Guy perform at the Beacon Theatre. I’ve had the tickets since the day they went on sale and have been eagerly awaiting the show like a little kid waiting for his birthday. Both men met my high expectations, but they had a special surprise in the form of a nine year-old boy named Quinn Sullivan that pushed the evening to unexpected heights.
I guess I should start from the beginning…
Buddy Guy took to the stage and did his usual routine, jumping between quiet blues, grand solos filled with instrumental madness, and onstage schtick (which is typical of bluesmen of his vintage). It was a lot of fun.
Then he announced that he was bringing out this kid and I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed. I thought to myself, “I’m here to see two of the greatest blues guitarists in history, what the hell can this kid offer that wouldn’t water down the experience?”
Then he started playing.
If I didn’t see the kid with my own eyes and know his age – If he played from behind a curtain, I would have thought he had been playing for decades. However, he wasn’t even a decade old.
Quinn was ridiculous. He had it all: taste, chops, and panache.
Quinn and Buddy traded licks, played some Hendrix, and the song “Whose Gonna Fill Those Shoes” from Buddy’s latest album Skin Deep (iTunes & Amazon). It turns out that the song’s title is a rhetorical question as the studio recording also features Quinn. Then Buddy put his guitar away and the band finished the set with Buddy on vocals and Quinn on lead guitar.
After an intermission B.B. King’s Blues Band took to the stage and jammed through two songs before introducing the man himself. He made his way out to a chair at center stage and then just did his thing.
If you’ve never seen B.B. live, it’s a different kind of entertainment experience. He spends about half of his time playing his heart out and the other half chatting with the audience. In addition to his tremendous musical talents, the 83 year-old bluesman is also pretty damn funny.
In the middle of his set, he brought Buddy and Quinn on stage. The three of them were a sight to see. B.B. remarked, “I don’t know where you get it from… I didn’t even pick up a guitar until I was 12.”
Buddy and Quinn departed and B.B. finished out his exceptional set.
It was an evening that I hope I never forget.
Upon returning home I looked up young Quinn Sullivan.
According to his MySpace page, he has been playing since he was three.
At six he was on the Ellen Degeneres Show where he played some Beatles Twist and Shout, and a blues rock jam:
Seven year-old Quinn playing Beatles/ Clapton ballad While My Guitar Gently Weeps:
Here is Quinn playing B.B. King classic, The Thrill is Gone at age eight:
Quinn play’s Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Texas Flood at nine with Buddy’s brother Phil Guy:
Finally, here is Quinn with Buddy:
I hope we get to see more of Quinn Sullivan in the future. He has a solo single available at iTunes & CD Baby.
6 thoughts on “B.B. King, Buddy Guy, & 9 Year-Old Quinn Sullivan Blow My Mind”
I attended the Beacon concert last night, and didn’t get the kid’s name until later in the show. Listening to him play, then WATCHING him play (through high-powered binoculars), I convinced myself he had to be Derek Trucks’ son! His stolid facial appearance while playing – no emoting, no wincing, no lip-biting stuff – and attitude (pure confidence, no showing off, almost aloof) were exactly like Trucks. I can’t believe he doesn’t have some Trucks genes in him!
@ Pan kai-wen – It’s funny that you say he looked a lot like Derek up there because I had a similar thought during the performance.
Amazing! What a phenominal talent. Look forward to seeing this kid play years from now.
I can only consider myself a casual blues fan, but was disappointed at the lack of actual playing on B.B. King’s part. I recognize that he is an old man and didn’t expect him to be jumping around stage or shredding like Buddy Guy’s fantastic guitarist, and further realize that his ‘chatting’ bit is a signature style, but for the price of those tickets I would’ve expected more than the 30 or so minutes of actual playing that we got. Buddy Guy and that kid were absolutely mind-blowing, though, and as far as I’m concerned they completely justified my attendance.