By Dorian Girard
Last week I joined the sing-a-long led by B.B. King to “You Are My Sunshine.” I witnessed B.B. hand over his beloved Lucille to Jimmie Vaughn to play a few songs. Both were firsts for me. Not that I haven’t seen Riley B. King before. I’ve actually won tickets to see him 3 times. I have good musical fortune. This last win was compliments of a fund-raising raffle at the Austin Blues Society’s jam session at Antone’s. The year was 1983 when the first win came from being the 4th radio caller at a 7-11 payphone on Koenig and Lamar (this was pre-cell phones, folks). Both were great concerts, but for different reasons.
Sunday night’s 2 ½ hour concert was sold out. Now 87, the King of the Blues plays and sings less during the concert. And while it could have been a disappointment for some, for me this lent itself to seeing the other side of the musical legend– that of storyteller, joker, promoter and uniter of great musical talent. “Rock me Baby”, “The Thrill is Gone”, “Every Day I Have the Blues” were 3 of 9 songs played. Jimmie Vaughn and James Cotton were surprise guests. And as one would expect, the musicians in the band were cream of the crop.
As he introduced the band he told stories on them, throughout the concert he told stories on himself, and lightheartedly he joked often about growing old and talking too much. Every so often as he sat in his chair wearing his loud print jacket, he would “boogie” in his seat and quickly call attention to the audience so as not to miss it. Jimmie respectfully played Lucille on a few songs, while James Cotton tore it up on the harp. And the incredibly talented Tameka Jones opened the show with a versatile range of unexpected songs such as “Miss you” by The Stones, “Burning Down the House” by the Talking Heads, and “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John. Even the intermission music, pre-,post- concert music was great – then again, you can’t go wrong with Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Odds are unlikely I’ll win tickets again.
But if B.B. comes to town again, I’ll be there.