“Teen Queen of the Blues” earned accolades after playing with Buddy Guy last summer
By John Sowell of The News-Review
AUGUST 16, 2012
ROSEBURG, Ore. – Guitar builder Don Greenough was impressed by the poise and ability shown by Savanna Coen when the teenager fronted Buddy Guy’s band for two songs with a borrowed guitar at the Douglas County Fair.
Greenough, owner of Fox Hollow Guitars in Eugene, said he was “blown away” by Coen’s performance on “Fever” and “Cross Roads Blues” as he sat in the audience.
The following day, he contacted the teen and offered to make her a $5,000 custom guitar for free.
“Everyone wants to help you out when you’re famous. I wanted to do something for her now,” Greenough said.
On Saturday, Coen, 14, carried her new guitar as she walked onto the Charter Communications Garden Park Stage and played for a fair audience.
“I’m really excited to be able to return to the fair and perform,” said Coen, an incoming freshman at South Eugene High School.
Coen first played her new guitar in public at the Olympic track trials in Eugene in late June.
The body is made from striped zebrawood, with the neck crafted from 100-year-old mahogany that was once a floorboard in a coffee mill in Honduras.
The guitar features unique dual pickups that allow it to be played acoustically and as an electric guitar.
“It’s an awesome guitar,” Coen said.
Fairgrounds Director Harold Phillips offered Coen the gig minutes after Guy’s show ended last August. He said he was impressed by her playing and that she wasn’t overwhelmed by playing with Guy or performing in front of the audience of 4,000 people.
A chance meeting with a News-Review reporter led Coen to a backstage conversation with the Chicago blues legend and an invitation to join Guy onstage in front of an audience of 4,000 people. Since she had come to the show looking for an autograph from Guy and had no idea she’d get to play with him, Coen didn’t have a guitar with her and had to borrow one of Guy’s.
She impressed everyone who heard her, Phillips said.
“She captured the hearts and minds of the people who saw her perform last year,” he said. “Since her debut here last year, she’s gained a lot of attention.”
Indeed. She released her debut CD, “Strength,” and has had her songs played frequently on Eugene radio station KRVM. She played at several festivals and performed at the Fan Festival at the track trials.
Coen said she is grateful to Phillips for offering her a gig on the spot at last summer’s fair and carrying out his promise.
“I think it was really, really nice to invite me to play a whole set,” she said.
Phillips said Coen, dubbed Oregon’s teen queen of the blues, earned her prime-time Saturday night slot.
“I think it’s a great way to cap off the fair with that kind of talent,” he said.