Written by Jim Bille
Nov 22, 2008 at 08:00 PM
ImageMusic royalty came to town last Saturday night in the form of a king, BB King that is, to play a jam-packed event at The House of Blues.  Now in his 83rd year, BB King is still hitting the road with one of the hottest bands and one of the most entertaining shows out there.  King’s living legend status has been in place for many years now and he proved his worthiness of the title King of the Blues Saturday with a stellar performance at Houston’s newest venue.

Top notch solo efforts from each band member during the warm up number prior to King’s stage arrival got the crowd primed for the evening.  BB stepped on stage just in time to hit some trademark licks on his guitar Lucille and finished up the first number. Decked out in a flowered sequined tux, King began the show with one of his many branded tunes “Let the Good Times Roll” then followed it up with “Key to the Highway” from his latest CD, “One Kind Favor”.

“When Love Comes to Town”, a song performed live by U-2 and King a few years back was featured during the set as well as other King classics like “Rock Me Baby” and his signature crossover song from 1968, “The Thrill is Gone”.  Another number performed from his new CD was Blind Lemon Jefferson’s New Orleans funeral march styled “See that My Grave is Kept Clean”.

Throughout his performance, King took time to banter about different subjects that included life, love and love life.  The crowd remained pretty much spellbound by his charming chatter and didn’t seem bothered by his penchant to gab a bit but when it came time to play music he nailed each number down with blues journeyman precision.

King has been honing this precision for over 60 years now after leaving his sharecropper life in Indianola, Mississippi. Touring on the “Chitlin Circuit” and releasing a series of memorable recordings in the 50’s gave King the momentum needed to become one of the first crossover artists to find an audience of listeners in the new rock era of the 60’s. Touring as an opening act for the Rolling Stones and releasing “The Thrill is Gone” around the same time helped cement his status as King of the Blues and he hasn’t slowed down since. King hasn’t always played major venues or to pack stadiums. My wife actually caught his show in the early 70’s in a Houston bowling alley.

Some of his accomplishments and honors over his career have included winning at least 14 Grammy Awards, and receiving a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for “The Thrill is Gone” in 1998.  This award is given to recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have qualitative or historical significance.  In 1995 King received the Kennedy Center Honor Award and in 2006 he was honored with the presidential Medal of Freedom and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Fame.

The fact that King is still touring on a regular basis is an impressive accomplishment on it’s own. Considering he is at the age when most people are content to be retired and to just go fishing, which King mentioned that he has no desire in doing either, BB King has no intention of abdicating his throne any time soon.

This is an obligatory show for any fan of the blues.