When I can combine two passions into one night, especially when it’s the blues and travel, I am one happy girl. The legendary Capitol Theater re-opened this month in suburban NYC. Just a short 37 minute train ride from NYC and you can be in the same building which hosted big Hollywood films like Casablanca in the 1920s to iconic rock stars like Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd & The Grateful Dead in the 1960s.
This week I was lucky enough to see my fave blues guitarist (shhhh, don’t tell Eric!), Buddy Guy. Jonny Lang opened the show and at once my aural senses were offended and we’re not even talking about how boring Lang is as a frontman but the awful sound which affronted my being in the balcony, said to be the “sweet spot” by the usher.
I quickly high-tailed it to the makeshift smoking section outside stage left just to save my hearing and borrowed the last pair of an usher’s earplugs. The investors spent millions refurbishing this beautiful venue but failed to have an audio engineer design a sound system built for the cavernous acoustics of The Capitol.
Once Buddy took the stage, the sound improved slightly (as it always does for the headliner) but the room still needs work. Buddy Guy, on the other hand, owned the night. He works the audience like no one else, turning the 1800+ seat theater into a living room. In true Buddy style, he went mobile, literally working the crowd in the orchestra and balcony seats with blues classics like “Hoochie Coochie Man” to Buddy’s own “Someone Else is Steppin’ In.”
The volume at Carnegie Hall does not need to be at 11 for the audience to appreciate the music because it will distort all sense or melody. I suggest that if this venue is to continue succeeding with top name artists, it needs to provide the audience with a comfortable. Or maybe, they should check out the sound at Buddy’s own club in Chicago, Legends, which boasts a much better mix! For now, run, don’t walk, to see Buddy at B.B. Kings in NYC on October 23 and 24……….the sound is great there!