Tuesday, 21 May 2024

The End of 2006 with The King of The Blues

When I walked in to the Joe Mazzola Showroom at Konocti Harbor Friday night Bill Noteman & The Rockets were already on stage, They were smack dab in the middle of “Poison In My Stew,” my favorite track from their latest CD, Cream Of The Crop.

The band laid down some deep blues grooves augmented by Noteman's Chicago Blues harp style and guitarist Larry “Mojo” Platz's well-placed licks. Especially enjoyable was his use of. fuzztone on “Cadillac Breakout.”

After a fast-paced, hour-long set, the hometown favorites closed with Muddy Waters' “I've Got My Mojo Working” and left the stage to a standing ovation. Not many acts can open for B.B. King and accomplish that. At the close of his set Master King acknowledged their showmanship.


However, let's not put the mule before the pony. B.B. Kings' band hit the stage at 9:30 p.m., led by trumpeter and music director James Bolden. Bolden is a 27-year veteran of the B.B. King Band and he runs a tight ship. The horn section is polished and executes with precision. Bolden doubles on flugel horn and baritone saxist Walter King doubles on flute which results in a full, sonorous sound, plus some.

The band led off with a jazzy instrumental which segued into nice blues. At precisely 9:45 p.m., the 81-year-old King of the Blues took center stage.

This was Mr. King's second U.S. date since returning from Brazil. He played the Oakland Paramount Theater Thursday night. My sources revealed that he emphatically declared how good he felt at the Paramount. My sources also tell me he said he felt good Saturday night at Konocti, the night following this writer's attendance. Though he didn't say it Friday night, he certainly played like the master he is. From his opening uptempo lick, it was apparent that the Blues King's chops were intact, psychedelia, jazz, country and other genres notwithstanding. For the record, Mr. King exhibited proficiency in all of the above.


B.B. King was in a very talkative mood. Initially and throughout the show, he thanked the audience for being so good to him. He thanked the Great Spirit and was inclusive of Indigenous Western culture in doing so. Early on, King appropriately launched into “Why I Sing The Blues.” The song is a solemn oath, qualifying King's life experience as a Bluesman.

Other numbers in B.B. King's set included “I Need You So,” “Bad Case Of Love” and “I'm A Blues Man” (in which altoist Calvin Jackson played the smallest alto I've ever seen).

At one point, the horn section laid completely out and left the stage to the rhythm section. King, second guitarist Charlie Dennis and bassman Reggie Richards did an extended guitar jam. Included in this was the country favorite, “You Are My Sunshine.”

When the horn section returned it was blues business as usual. B.B. spun a hilarious monologue as a prelude to a medley, “Just Like A Woman”/ “Darling, You Know I Love You.”

Though we were past Christmas, B.B. graciously included “Merry Christmas, Baby” to rousing applause. The 90-minute set ended with the duly stated, “How Blue Can You Get.”

The show ended with The King Of The Blues walking offstage under his own power after tossing about 2 pounds of B.B. King jewelry/memorabilia to the crowd, all standing. Can't get any bluer than that.

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