Throwback Thursday: Buck 65 at Bluesfest 2011


Photo by Blair Smith (Byward of Mouth)

One of my favourite Canadian talents, no matter the genre, will be gracing the NAC stage on Nov. 22nd. Yes the legendary Buck 65 will be in Ottawa in late November, tickets here. I thought it would be fun to resurrect an old article of mine about the time he competed with John Fogerty, a cold and swarms of bugs to deliver a most excellent performance. So here it is.

An ailing Buck 65 took to the Hard Rock stage in a grey suit, July 12th, 2011 at Bluesfest, ready to deliver.

Accompanied by the lovely Marnie Herald, he opened with “Sweet Baby.” Herald blended her beautiful voice and energy several more times on other tracks, as you can see in the video below.

Just in case you did not know who you were seeing, he let you know. “I’m the legendary Buck 65 from Mt. Uniacke, Nova Scotia,” he said with a grin before launching into “Superstars Don’t Love.”

After that he took some time to talk with the crowd.  “I knew I was in trouble when I got here today. I was doing my sound check and all of a sudden clear as a bell I start hearing the familiar catalogue of Credence Clearwater Revival from over the hill.  Then they tell me that Fogerty over there is going on at the same time I’m going on, so I’m thinking to myself no one is going to come see me when they can see Fogerty.”

The crowd reacted with boos and then cheers for Buck 65, and so he replied, “Hear me out, I wouldn’t be here if I were you. So I want to show you how much I appreciate that you are here when you could be over there…I can hear him real good, I wonder if he can hear us, let’s find out. I’m just asking for it now.”

This was the beginning of one of the highlights of the set, playing “Wicked and Weird” over “Run through the Jungle” by CCR.  It was epic, and the crowd lost their mind when he began to scratch on the track as well.

Following up with “Dang,” and saying after, “Don’t worry, I talked to Fogerty earlier and he’ll be doing a Buck 65 song.” Afterwards he played “All There is to Say About Love”, a Bike for Three song, which is a cross continental collaboration with Belgium producer Joëlle Phuong Minh Lê.

“The doctor said I could not go to Ottawa, but to quote Ray Charles, ‘I don’t need no doctor.’ I got rained out last time and come hell or high water I was playing,” he said. “This is Bluesfest for crying out loud!”  And everyone in attendance was extremely grateful he toughed it out.

Buck 65 scratching up a storm at Ottawa Bluesfest 2011. Photo: Blair Smith, Byward of Mouth
Buck 65 scratching up a storm at Ottawa Bluesfest 2011. Photo: Blair Smith, Byward of Mouth

He scattered two great new songs throughout the set. One of them he wrote with fellow East-Coaster Jenn Grant, leaving this writer looking very much forward to the new album.  Another one of the wonders of a Buck 65 show are his excellent scratching skills and his “amazing” dance moves, where he appears to be dancing like the inflatable Skydancers (better known as wacky waving inflatable arm flaling tube men).

Buck 65 has quite the extensive catalogue and he did not shy away from any of it on this night. He played, “Gee Whiz,” “BBC,” “Cold Steel Drum,” “Paper Airplane,” “Small Town Boy,” “Surrender to Strangeness” and “Zombie Delight.”

After “Zombie Delight” he took more time to talk to the crowd. “It’s good to see a lot of people here, some familiar faces… I don’t know if I get a cut of the gate tonight or what, I need a few extra bucks, because I did something I sorta regret earlier tonight at the hotel. I smashed the television in the room.” He then explained, “There was that commercial that came on for Miracle Whip, you know that hipster Miracle Whip, do you know these commercials.  The hipster style Miracle Whip, the sandwich spread… they are trying to make this cool, of all things, so I smashed my television set tonight.”

People began throwing money up on stage for him, one overzealous fan hit him in the head.  Buck 65 took back to the mic, “How do I protect myself from that? I’m going to change tactics real quick,” and he began playing “Indestructible Sam.”

He dedicated “Pants on Fire” to those who have been listening to him for more than 10 years, the fans he dubbed “the lifers.”  And Buck 65 rewarded them with a mind-blowing scratch outro to his classic track.  He then added, “Thanks for coming and I promise ya I gave you 100 per cent of what I had tonight which is about 75 per cent of what I normally have because I have had some sort of flu. Second of all let us skip the pretence of the encore, if you insist let’s pretend it is over now… because that whole thing is embarrassing for both of us frankly.”

The encore consisted of “The Niceness” and “Blood of a Young Wolf.”  But as he left the stage the crowd continued to chant and clap.  They wanted more… and even though he was sick as a dog, he took back to the stage. “Is Fogerty done over ther? I feel like it would be wrong if he wasn’t… How old is he? He can’t outlast me,” and so he played one more track as he collected the money from the stage, closing with “465.”