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Music Consumption: B.B. King
08/31/2000 B.B. King: live

A friend asked me to check out the BB King set at the local blues festival. Heading in, we ran into several people walking out. "Oh, BB already played." "No, BB hasn't played yet." "You better hurry; his set's half over." Turns out that as we got in, his band was just starting the first of its three warm-up tunes before BB came out. Buddy Guy had played earlier, so I wonder if some of those comments from other attendees were coming from a "well, I saw some Black guy with a guitar, so it must have been BB" kind of thing. (sigh.) I expected BB to be coasting at his age, just sort of collecting the checks from putting in an appearance, but...I was completely surprised. His tone was hot, his touch excellent, and his set totally hit all the right electric blues nerves. A couple less-than-optimal things came up, mainly in a couple of "crowd pleaser" moments--"I can't hear you; clap louder" stuff, and "I don't have Eric Clapton here with me tonight, so let's pretend that ________ (the other guitarist) is Eric Clapton for this one." The other guitarist was obviously a capable player, but seemed a bit bored and couldn't be bothered to play or sound like Clapton; he stuck with his clean LP neck pickup tone and occasional jazzy runs. ("Now, doesn't he sound like Eric Clapton?" Crowd: "!!!!!") OTOH, as a friend of mine put it, hustling the audience in that way is kind of a soul man thing to do. Then there was the "isn't that just like a woman?" tune, with each verse covering a different "bad woman" from a different historical period to show just how "bad" women can be. OK, fine, but there was a verse devoted to...Nero. Huh? Hey, guys--Nero was a dude, OK? Overall, though, a pretty amazing set for anyone--not just for a guy in his 70s.

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