Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Nobody loves me but my mother, and I think she might be jivin' too

B.B. King Tour Poster
The blues isn't about feeling better. It's about making other people feel worse. - Bleeding Gums Murphy

Herself and I went to the Palace Theater in Columbus last night to see B.B. King and Bobby "Blue" Bland. This was our big Christmas present to each other; she bought my ticket and I bought hers.

I knew the name Bobby "Blue" Bland, but I didn't know his music. Turns out he's a vocalist, working in a real smooth, R&B style these days. Bland's voice has clearly taken a hit over time; actually, when he sat down, I was kind of worried. But as he warmed up, flashes of brilliance shone through, whether it was the blues of "Stormy Monday" or a soul take on Merle Haggard's "Today I Started Loving You Again." He had a lot of fun with an audience sing along on "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," and discovered quite a talented 10-year old in the audience.

OK, let's be honest. This night was about taking B.B. King off the "See Them Before They Die" list. (And you gotta figure that a fat 80 year old diabetic goes toward the top of that list.) Well, B.B. came out and blew the doors off for an hour and a half, with every lick he ever had still in fine form. Frankly, he could've played "How Blue Can You Get" and "The Thrill Is Gone" and I would've been happy, but he threw in "When Love Comes To Town" and "Just Like A Woman" and a hell of a riff on "Summertime," and I was in heaven.

King is an amazing stage presence. The man can chair-dance better than most people dance on their feet. (I may have picked up a move or two for my own chair dancing.) It was just amazing to feel that much energy coming off a man who never left his chair. For a virtuoso, he's also a very giving performer; every member of his band got solos, and lots of recognition for them.

I've seen some bands play their bit and be done; I've seen some leave everything they had on the stage. B.B. seemed to be gaining momentum when the roadies started circling the stage. His manager actually had to come out and say it was time to go. I think if not for the house rules, he would've played another half hour or more. We stood at the stage door for probably half an hour, hoping he'd show up and autograph that poster. We never saw him, but I'm still not convinced he was on the bus and not wailing away back in the green room.

B.B. said he doesn't know where this "last tour" business came from, and that he'd like to come through Columbus again sometime if we'd have him. Good news for us all. If you get the opportunity, don't miss him.


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