In The Presence Of A King
I’m a bit of a concert junkie, I admit it. I’m not a groupie, superfan or psychostalker, and my concert history specifically does NOT include ever seeing the Grateful Dead nor Radiohead. So let’s just settle on junkie; I go to concerts when I can and like a kid in a toy store, it seems like EVERY concert is THE BEST concert I’ve ever been to, I swear it this time, I mean it.
So when the legendary B.B. King came to our little corner of Missouri the other night, I knew attendance would be mandatory. After all, the man is the reigning king of the blues and at 86 years young, is likely reaching his final touring years. This was a bucket-list kind of event in my opinion; since the advent of Sirius/XM radio in the house and car, I actually began listening to the blues as a genre. A trip to Kansas City a few years back where I saw the band “Four Fried Chickens & A Coke” fostered a musical curiosity and ever since I’ve associated the blues with hot and sweaty grit, soul, poverty and desperate hope fueled by man’s ways. If I can appreciate blues in the abstract as a means of conveying broken hearts, broken dreams and broken beer bottles crashing down on those who’ve wronged you, seeing them played in concert, by a father of the medium no less, was not something one takes lightly.
I won’t post my crappy cell-phone photos. I won’t tell you his set list. I won’t go into detail about the confrontation that went down between some couples in the back row, where my budget mandated I sit. None of those things are relevant when it comes down to the conveyance of the work of an original master and his beloved guitar “Lucille”. His band was impeccably dressed, masters of their instruments in their own right, tightly knit around Mr. Kings dance along the frets, his songs peppered with an elders recollection of favorite tales to tell. Respectfully, the crowd listened as he rambled about this and that, each of us hanging onto his words, fascinated by what makes a legend tick. With his signature bending of the strings and raspy wail breaking your heart, I was momentarily removed from the litany of chaos in my own world. I’ve never seen a performer or musician so gracious for the opportunity to grace people with his creative whims… every other sentence seemed to be “thank you ladies and gentlemen for having us here tonight.” An all-around display of class and style, Mr. King and his court make you feel like a slob for just sitting there, NOT in your best suit with a fresh haircut. These guys were grade-A, old school professionals.
I’m not from the mean streets of anywhere, and my story is hardly one that would warrant a bluesman’s lyrics, but I can appreciate the soul that produces such fare. The very same rhythm courses through all of our veins, and if anyone can stir the ability to tap the toes and lament life’s losses a little, well, there’s none better than The King himself. If you get the chance, catch Mr. King in concert; you won’t leave disappointed.