Hoodoo you love?
Bo Diddley, that’s who
Will all the great ones someday end up playing to inanimate crowds of bemused seniors, touring a circuit of bingo halls and obscure casinos? After helping to invent rock and roll almost 50 years ago, the incomparable Bo Diddley did just that Sunday night. But despite being billed as a comedy act, Diddley projected an aura of invincibility and rock-and-roll royalty.
At 75, Diddley now sits rather than stands at center stage, backed by a band that looks (but doesn’t sound) like it’s played in more churches than roadhouses. Decked out in a red suit, cowboy boots and trademark black hat, Diddley cranked out a set of blues-rock and insult comedy that brought even the sedate casino crowd to its feet. It was a great show made even better by the old blues man’s hilarious witticisms and interactions with the audience.
Most of the banter was friendly and sincere, like when Bo thanked those present for helping him get through the “rock-and-roll crisis” that has defined his career. But at one point, a drunken mullet-rocker who shouted something from the fifth row got served pretty bad by the dozens-playing Diddley, who, among other things, told him that Ringling Brothers sent word that “if you ain’t coming back, at least send the cage.” When security guards started hovering, Diddley told them to leave the guy alone, as he “learned how to deal with people like that 39 years ago.”
The exchange lent authenticity to Diddley’s lyrics and larger-than-life persona, both built on intertwining themes of sexual potency, humor in the face of adversity and the art of being a legendary bad-ass. Needless to say, he played all his hits, sexing them up with lines like: “I love you baby—I’d love you twice as much if you’d put down that razor,” and, “You dig in another man’s yard, you likely to get your shovel bent.”
Colusa Casino should be praised for booking Diddley and making him accessible for fans and autograph-seekers after the show. And you people who opted to feed quarters into video poker machines instead of witnessing music history ought to be ashamed of yourself.