BB King is awfully happy for bluesman.
During his 90-minute concert at UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium, Wed., March 6, he performed more smiles than songs, bantering away like he was in a room full of old firends — and beautiful ladies.
It’s obvious that the legendary 87-year-old “King of the Blues” is a performer through and through — performing more than 250 shows annually at an age where most are content to stay home and play bridge. He soaks up the well-deserved praise graciously.
And he’s in great shape. Although he sat for the entire performance (and refereed to cue cards he had stashed in his pocket for forgotten lyrics), the King gave his soul over to the blues, Wednesday night. And the audience gave their souls over to the music.
The show began with two songs from the eight-piece BB King Blues Band, led by James “Boogaloo” Bolden, a master trumpet player whose face puffs up like a blowfish when he plays.
Each member took turns at centre stage, playing solos in these instrumental openers. And what a talented bunch they are. These eight men (most over 60 years old) really know how to get down, and how to have a great time doing it. Their joy was contagious.
BB King came in about 15-20 minutes in, and sat front and centre for the rest of the show. His soulful voice is still as powerful as ever and his guitar playing as playful as his personality.
About half-way through, he led the audience in a rendition of “You are my Sunshine” that had the whole room singing and clapping along. He closed with “As the Saints go Marching In” in the same vein.
I couldn’t help but feel like I was witnessing something very special in that auditorium — a level of musicianship and performance that most can only dream of seeing, let along achieving themselves. And the sound was fantastic.
Thanks to UVic for hosting such a fantastic and enriching evening of music!
Photos by Rob Porter