Wednesday, July 10, 2013

B.B. King; James Hunter Six @ Brookfield Place

B.B. King; James Hunter Six (Lowdown Hudson River Blues Festival)
@ Brookfield Place (World Financial Center)
New York, NY - July 10, 2013

For as long as I have memories, I have known and loved B.B. King. Whether it was "The Thrill is Gone" or later on getting acquainted with "Payin' the Cost to be the Boss" and "Guess Who", little Elwood didn't just limit his blues intake to the Blues Brothers. Oh no. B.B. played as big a role and eventually a bigger one. And for all the love of Muddy and John Lee and Howlin', none of it would have been possible without first loving B.B.

87 years old and he's still going. Obviously the vocals and even the long plays have slowed down, and the tempo of the band has to adjust, but man - would I be like this if I get to 87? I doubt it. "Thrill", "Guess", "Everyday I Have the Blues" and a couple of others made appearances in what was essentially a long jam of fiddlin' around on some basic lounge blues chords, before culminating in a "Saints Go Marching In" send-off. Yeah the spectre of mortality was a part of this show, B.B. wasn't running from it. He just kept going and going. If only we all could.

When James Hunter unleashed People Gonna Talk several years ago, it seemed like one of the last hurrahs of a soulful bluesy traditionalist making waves in large quarters. But in hindsight it appears to have been at the vanguard of a revival. And now with the new record, Minute by Minute, and a quintet backing him up to form a new band, Hunter is tackling it all from a punchier angle: more boppin' soul than blues. In this live setting, he toned it back a bit again with some crooning, some ska beats, and some straight blues but the classicist in him kept bringing it all together with the new slate. He is as good as he promised some years ago.


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