That was quite the line-up of blues all-stars playing behind President Obama at the White House for the PBS Red, White & Blues event on Tuesday night. Supporting POTUS as he did for Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago" what he had previously done for Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" earlier this month was a super A-list ensemble that included leading living legends B.B. King and Buddy Guy, senior citizen blues-loving British Invaders Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck and next generation standouts Gary Clark Jr., Shemekia Copeland, Keb Mo, Trombone Shorty, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. Kudos to the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue booking agent.
And bravo to the great Buddy Guy, who did his fellow Chicagoan a solid by urging the Commander in Chief to loosen up and show off his vocal chops hile playing a Man of the People card in celebrating the Windy City in a song that originated with the long-gone King of the Delta Blues singers. (Johnson would have turned 101 in May had he not been poisoned to death by a jealous husband in 1938.)
Obama has now adeptly covered the Mississippi blues and Memphis soul in a month's worth of musical campaigning. What's next? Going cosmic country with Willie Nelson? Singing jazz standards with Wynton Marsalis? Freestyling with Jay-Z? With Pennsylvania in play in the general election in the fall, I suggest he hook up with Gamble and Huff and the O'Jays for a whistle-stop ride on the Phillly soul classic "Love Train."
In Performance at the White House: Red, White & Blues air Monday on PBS stations, including Philadephia's WHYY. Buddy Guy plays the Grand Opera House in Wilmington on April 17 and When I Left Home, his memoir, is due out in May.