30 April 2006

A Night With the King of the Blues

I like live music. I usually don't even care who's playing. I like local cover (garage?) bands, and I like major concerts, too. Obviously, when it comes to the major stadium concerts, costs can get very prohibitive -- probably not in line with the mission of paying down debt. Every now and again, though, something comes along that you really just can't pass up -- and something that I just couldn't pass up came strolling into town this past Friday night.

Legendary bluesman, B.B. King, played the House of Blues in Orlando, and I was able to secure one of the sold-out tickets. This was a stark contrast to my trip to see Billy Joel at the nearly 40,000-seat Carrier Dome in Syracuse, as the HoB only "seats" 2,200. Of course, the tiny venue doesn't really have more than a couple of hundred physical seats -- so, this was 2-plus hours on my feet, plus the waiting time outside the venue. Still, the opportunity to see two RockRoll Hall of Famers in a little over a month -- for under a hundred bucks -- seems like a good way to spend some time.

Let me tell you this -- at 80 years young, B.B. King flat out rocks. I don't mean that he plays well "for an 80-year old." I mean he would put a lot of today's artists to shame. He still wails away on Lucille for darn near two full hours. He still belts out the tunes and his patented monologues with relative ease, from atop a chair set in the middle of the stage. He doesn't move around much -- doesn't milk the audience for encores -- when he's done, he's done. But, he wasn't done until nearly 11 pm, with an 8:30 start time, that sure seemed more like 9 pm. The bulk of his band has been touring with B.B. for some time -- his bandleader, "Bugaloo" Bolden, has been with him for almost a quarter-century. Needless to say, these guys know what they're doing, and they know how to make the "King" look good.

They focus on the songs folks want to hear -- "Nobody Loves Me But My Mother," "When Love Comes to Town" (which, by the way, King is quick to tell you is a song that he co-wrote with Bono, for the U2 project 'Rattle and Hum'), and, of course, "The Thrill is Gone." Still, one of my favoites from the evening was King (and the audience) singing and humming "You Are My Sunshine."

If this legend is coming to your town any time soon, GO! The tickets in Orlando were about $40 a throw. Opportunities to see someone who transcends musical legend won't continue forever, and I know that I am glad that someday, I will be able to tell my tale of seeing the great B.B. King.

No comments: