The LoCO Lowdown | Lost Coast Outpost | Humboldt County

Caturday Night with Buddy Reed

Come on out for an evening of Blues and Rock with Local Blues Legend Buddy Reed! Ivan Elmo “Buddy” Reed is a seasoned performer and a vital part of blues history. As a teenaged guitarist he would play the “Battle of the Bands” at the National Guard armories around his home town of Rialto, California. Then in 1968, he met Little Walter protege George “Harmonica” Smith. As Buddy tells it, “George had a lot going on, so I went with him. Unknown to me at the time, he was friends and neighbors with the great Pee Wee Crayton and none other than Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton. They lived in the Watts district of L.A. and this is where we started school. Blues school! It was me and Rod Piazza, Richard Innes and Jerry Smith. Sometimes we’d bring down a 14 year old guitar phenomenon, Greg “Little Guitar” Schaefer. Me from Rialto and the rest of ‘em from Riverside. Then, to round it out, from George’s neighborhood we had the great J. D. Nicholson on piano. J.D. had been a touring and recording artist in his own right for years. We were “The George Smith Blues Band featuring Rod Piazza.” “We became the house band at George’s neighborhood club “The Small Paradise” on the corner of 53rd and Avalon. We just called it Small’s. We worked there every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. George was the real thing, from Chicago, actually Cairo, close by. He’d played with Muddy and everybody else. After all the years of performing, man, he had the stage thing DOWN! All the other artists, great and small, looked up to George.” The biggest names in the business passed through Small’s - Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, Howling Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Johnny Otis - and Reed and his bandmates backed them up. George Smith and his disciples were soon touring the states with Big Mama Thornton, and recording and touring in England. Pressed to come up with a new band name in the studio, Reed suggested “Bacon Fat.” Smith and band recorded three albums with Fleetwood Mac producer Mike Vernon for the Blue Horizon label. Back in the States, Buddy left the band to join his rock n’ roll idol, Little Richard, playing Las Vegas and touring nationally for a year. Reed then reunited with Jerry Smith and Richard Innes, performing under his own name. Since then Buddy has traveled the Western states with his current trio (and sometimes quartet) The Rip It Ups. Over the decades Buddy Reed has crafted a unique style, combining a raw and passionate vocal style, high energy staccato rhythm guitar, and searing leads. He sings and plays with a sweat drenched intensity rarely matched by his peers. A highlight of the show is his slide guitar showcase, inspired by Muddy Waters, Elmore James and J. B. Hutto. His repertoire reflects his love for early rock & roll, including the songs of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and The Coasters. His originals speak of the hard life of an uncompromising blues veteran. In 1998 Buddy Reed was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame. In 2012 Reed’s recording with the late George “Harmonica” Smith, “Teardrops Are Falling” was nominated for Historical Album of the Year by the Blues Foundation.

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