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Monthly Archives: June 2007

The Legendary B. B. King

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It’s not very often that one gets the opportunity to see a living legend. So, a few months ago when I had the chance to get tickets to see B.B. King, I seized the opportunity. Through fortuitous circumstances, I was able to buy tickets at the pre-sale through the local arts association. I had my assistant order them for me and she came back and told me that it was done and that I had REALLY great seats — 3rd row, Center.

Now, Mr. D. is usually not real excited about going to concerts as it’s generally too loud for his delicate ears. However, since we lived in Memphis and had been to B.B.’s club dozens of times, I figured that it wouldn’t be too hard to convince him to go, particularly since we had such good seats. I waited for a strategically good time to break the news. Somewhat reluctantly, he agreed to accompany me and we were set. I received the tickets in the mail about a week later and put them in my purse.

When we got to the concert, we went to the bar and got a couple of drinks before the show. Since there were about 1,000 little old “ushers” all around, we whipped out the tickets to find out where the best entrance for us would be. Low and behold, our seats weren’t on the 3rd row…..they were FIRST ROW!!!

We were both ecstatic. I had my camera in my purse and I knew that I was going to be able to get some good shots. I have a fairly high resolution Canon point and shoot, but it generally gets the job done. See?……

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The opening act started promptly at 8:00pm. Wes Jeans is an up and coming hard rock blues man from Texas. With just he, a bass player and a drummer, he put on a very tight set. He reminded me very much of a young Duane Allman.

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A very amiable and personable young man, he had quite a bit of monologue for the audience and let us know several times what an honor it was for him to open for, and be on the same stage as, Mr. B.B. King. While his blues style has a harder rock vibe to it, he was able to produce a very fine version of Muddy Waters’ Champagne & Reefer. He also jumped down off the stage and went all through the audience, which was quite a crowd pleaser. Go out and check this dude out at www.wesjeans.com. Good stuff.

After getting the set just right and 20 minutes later, nattily dressed musicians in slick tuxedos took the stage. The B.B. King band, in all it’s glory, began to play. The heavenly horn section showed off it’s immense talent on about 9 different brass instruments. They were divine.

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I saw Melvin Jackson (bottom right) years ago in Memphis at B.B. King’s (sans B.B.) and the beautiful sax that he plays is just as beautiful sounding. About 10 minutes in, Melvin announces B.B. King to the stage (as he has in over 90 countries), to a standing ovation.

He was magnificent looking in an irredescent patterned tux coat with black satin vest. He took a chair and Melvin “strapped him into” Lucille, the beautiful black Gibson, custom made for B.B.

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On the handle, the inlay reads “B.B. King 80”, evidently given to him by Gibson to celebrate his 80th birthday a year and a half ago. Now, we are close….I mean like 15 ft. max. As he’s sitting down, he can’t see deep into the audience because of the low lighting, but he spots me with my camera and looks dead at me.

I click and I smile and I give him a “thumbs up” (I know, gooberish….but heartfelt.) He’s happy to be here. You can see it. You can feel it.

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What an absolute delight this man is. So much talent and so much life. He explains to the crowd after a short guitar intro that his diabetes takes a toll on his knees and ankles and that standing to play causes him too much discomfort and he wants to be able to play as long as possible for his folks, so he is going to sit tonight….and, was that ok with us? Of course, the crowd goes wild and many people were throwing “We love you, B.B.” out all over the place. B.B. crosses his hands on his chest, making a humble gesture of appreciation. It was officially a LoveFest.

While I can’t recant the exact set list (as I was sitting there in slack-jawed awe, mesmerized by the stories, voice and fingers on the strings), I can provide some of my favorite moments. The first was Blues Man.

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I was struck by the fact that B.B. looks like a plump Morgan Freeman (a talented blues man in his own right). The passion with which B.B. plays and sings is infectious. You “feel” him. And the guitar is simply an extension of his body.

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In between songs, he told anecdotes and stories about songs and situations, developing an immediate and intense kun-NECK-shun ™ with the audience.

My favorite was his recollection about growing up in the country and going to town once a week. He joked about seeing an indoor toilet for the first time when he was in his ’20s. Then, he talked specifically about going into town and having a few beers on “the dark side” of the tracks. After a beer and a half and starting to feel 10 ft. tall and bulletproof, he’d sneak over to the “white side” of the tracks to drink out of the “All White” fountain, then run back across the tracks. He said he never understood what the big deal was regarding that “white” water as it tasted the same as the “colored” water. Folks roared with laughter but the moment was not lost on a theater full of Alabamians listening to a black man from Mississippi who has come a long way since having to sneak across those tracks. He made his point exceedingly clear and everyone absolutely loved him for it.

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The set included some of B.B.’s best. You Can Have My Husband, Nobody Loves Me But But My Mother, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, How Blue Can You Get and Let the Good Times Roll (complete with crowd call back).

You can definitely see B.B.’s influence on these prodigys. Somewhere in there, he “tagged” in some Night Life guitar pickin’. He had the crowd thoroughly engaged with Ain’t That Just Like a Woman.

I am particularly fond of I Need You So.

He was particularly proud to do U2’s When Love Comes to Town, written by Bono specifically for him.

He even did a jig in his chair, much to the delight of the crowd.

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He led everyone is a sweet version of You Are My Sunshine (written by Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis), before finishing up with The Thrill is Gone. After an hour and forty-five minutes, he finished up and took a fierce, proud and appreciative bow. The crowd responded with a three minute standing ovation.

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At the very end, he threw just a few guitar picks out to the audience, and my knight in shining armor ran up there and got me one, along with a necklace commemorating his 2007 World Tour. Got to give the man credit….once he’s there, he certainly participates. I lerve Mr. D. It was an absolute fantabulous evening and Mr. Riley B. King was superb. I can actually say that this is a highlight of my musical life.

B.B. King is such an awesome talent, great artist and genuine human being. His music showcases his evident emotion in each song, note and phrase. The art of music is in the effectiveness of conveying the emotion. B.B. King is a master of this art.

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20 Comments

Posted by on June 14, 2007 in Artists, Concerts, Influences

 

To tide you over….

I’m still working on my complete write-up on the concert, so here’s a few more pictures to tide you over ‘ til then.

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3 Comments

Posted by on June 13, 2007 in Artists, Influences

 

I Was THIS Close….Seriously.

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SOOO much more to come….For the record, B.B. RAWKS!

 
10 Comments

Posted by on June 12, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Tonight….

More to come….

 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 12, 2007 in Artists, Influences

 

Richard Wayne Penniman

The one. The only. The incomparable Georgia Peach.

The ORIGINATOR.

The genesis of Rock & Roll really started with Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti in 1955. While LR is primarily recognized today for his flamboyant style and great “isms”, he WAS the originator. Born in 1932 in Macon, Georgia, Richard was one of 12 children and heavily influenced by the gospel music of his rich church life. As a child, his favorite artists were Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Thorpe. He sang with his family as The Penniman Singers, touring local churches and revivals. He joined Thorpe onstage in Macon at the age of 13, in 1945 after she heard him singing before the concert. As a teenager, his piano playing was greatly shaped by a traveling musician named Esquerita, who apparently influenced his persona, as well. He left home at 15 to dance in Sugarfoot Sam’s Minstrel Show.

In 1951, at 18, Richard won a talent contest in Atlanta and was awarded a recording contract with Peacock Records. However, in 1952, his father was murdered causing him to return to Macon. There, he played the Tick Tock Club at night and washed dishes at the Greyhound Bus Station during the day. At the Tick Tock, he came to the attention of Bill Wright, a New Orleans blues singer. In 1955, he sent a demo tape to Specialty Records who put him in the hands of Bumps Blackwell, the man that had mentored Ray Charles and Quincy Jones. During a break at one of the recording sessions, Little Richard banged around the piano, playing Tutti Frutti with slightly more risque’ lyrics. The producer immediately put down the track and Tutti Frutti became LR’s first hit and Rock & Roll’s initial template.

The up-beat tempo created a different sound than the traditional slow burn of rhythm & blues. It was fast. It was fun. And, it was LOVED. LR understood that this was show business. You need to be noticed and talked about and boy did he give them something to talk about.

From 1955 to 1957, Little Richard ruled.

Rip it Up

Lucille (check out the band’s dance moves….to been seen later by James Brown and numerous Motown acts — as well as The Blues Brothers)

Ready Teddy

Slippin’ and Slidin’ (on John Lennon’s Jukebox)

Jenny, Jenny

In 1957, on tour in Australia, LR had a vision of his own damnation and a close call on a plane. He promptly quit music and began to study to be a preacher. He would go in and out of show business over the next two decades, kick a drug habit, survive a major car crash and finally settle into his role as an icon and ambassador of Rock & Roll, showcasing his enormous talent and personality. In 1993, he was one of the first artists inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and recently served as a judge on Celebrity Duets, where he has become endeared to a whole new generation.

LR on Celebrity Duets

Likely the most influential of LR’s robust crop of Rock & Roll “foundations”, is Long Tall Sally. Here is a comparison of LR’s version and The Beatles’ version performed live at their Wembley Stadium concert in ’65. While I love The Beatles and the Little Richard inspired I Saw Her Standing There, there really is only one version of Long Tall Sally worthy of Little Richard — his own.

Long Tall Sally – LR

Long Tall Sally – The Beatles

Little Richard was an early mentor to The Beatles as well as The Rolling Stones, Billy Preston, James Brown, Elvis and Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix actually worked as a guitarist for Little Richard in 1964.

Here is LR’s take on Jimi Hendrix:

(Note: A favorite MM saying is first used in this vid from the 1973.)

At 75, Little Richard Penniman has positively, and significantly, influenced the most world-changing of music genres. He is one of the last, great Rock & Rollers…those pioneers who turned the world upside down in the middle of the 20th century and forever changed views on race, religion and attitudes.

LR speaks the truth….”You got to be placed into the dipper and be poured back onto the world and then men will see your good works and glorify God, Jehovah.”

Amen, brutha, amen.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on June 9, 2007 in Artists, Influences

 

TGIF

 
15 Comments

Posted by on June 8, 2007 in Artists, that's life, weekdays

 

BOLD as Love…Can you SEE it?

A couple of weeks ago….

I asked about the meaning of Jimi Hendrix’s Bold as Love, covered by John Mayer. While looking for some other information, I came across the fact that both John Mayer and Jimi Hendrix have/had a condition called music to color synesthesia that causes the person to “see” music in colors. From Wikipedia:

Music → color synesthesia

In music → color synesthesia, individuals experience colors in response to tones or other aspects of musical stimuli (e.g., timbre or key). Like grapheme → color synesthesia, there is rarely agreement amongst synesthetes that a given tone will be a certain color. However, consistent trends can be found, such that higher pitched notes are experienced as being more brightly colored (Ward, Huckstep & Tsakanikos 2006). The presence of similar patterns of pitch-brightness matching in non-synesthetic subjects suggests that this form of synesthesia shares mechanisms with non-synesthetes (Ward, Huckstep & Tsakanikos 2006).

Color changes in response to pitch may involve more than just the hue of the color. Brightness (the amount of white in a color; as brightness is removed from red, for example, it fades into a brown and finally to black), saturation (the intensity of the color; firetruck red and sky blue are highly saturated, while grays, white, and black are unsaturated), and hue may all be affected to varying degrees (Campen & Froger 2003). Additionally, music → color synesthetes, unlike grapheme → color synesthetes, often report that the colors move, or stream into and out of their field of view.

So, now a moment of clarity. Aha. Lightbulb. I get it. Mayer is crazy like a fox and I think that his cover of Bold as Love is linked to his affection of Jimi Hendrix. In John’s article about Jimi Hendrix in Rolling Stone back in 2004, Mayer says:

I think the reason musicians love Hendrix’s playing so much is that the language of it was so native to his head and heart. He had a secret relationship with playing the guitar, and though it was incredibly technical and based in theory, it was his theory. And I think that was sacred to him. That’s why you almost never read an interview with him explaining his live-gear setup or his favorite scales. That’s part of what made his playing so compelling — all you heard was the color. The math is what’s been applied ever since.”

So, perhaps Bold as Love is simply a manifestation of how Jimi, and John, saw/see the music. Bold….Bold as love.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on June 6, 2007 in Influences, John Mayer