B.B King Blues
25th June 2004 – Granada,
Some artists are immensely popular,
others have cult followings, but few are living legends.
Riley “Blues Boy” King more familiarly
known as B.B. King to his fans undoubtedly falls into
the last category. The king of the blues has a career spanning
well over half a century and has received countless awards
as well as been inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of
Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Not only is the man famous but
also, his guitar has a name – Lucille. She was named
after the fact that B.B ran into a burning hall to save his
beloved $30 acoustic guitar. The fire was caused when two
men fighting over a woman called Lucille knocked over a stove.
B.B gave his guitar the name to
remind himself never to do such a stupid thing as fight over
a woman. The rest is the story of a legend.
So at high noon on a Friday we set off to Granada about three
3 hours away by road for the concert, expecting to see a great
show by B.B King, Dr.John and Shemekia
We arrived late afternoon in the sweltering heat of one of
Andalusia’s most beloved and beautiful cities, which contains
amongst other monuments the world famous “Alhambra Palace”
After a brief rest and some refreshment
we made our way to the venue the “Palacio de los Deportes”
a large sports hall with ample seating where we saw “Jamiroquai”
not so long ago.
Doors opened at around 20.00 and
the concert started at around 20.30 with a local band called
“The Funk on Me” who had not been announced on our
As the band name suggested they played
an energetic funky set of original material, their singer
sounded a bit like someone out of a heavy rock band though,
which mixed interestedly with the tight rhythms of their songs
and their great slap style bassist who played a bright yellow
G&L ASAT bass.
Next on after a short break to clear and
prepare the stage was “Shemekia Copeland”, daughter
of the late blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland.
Shemekia, with her earth
shattering powerful voice and great stage presence sung numbers
from her new album “Talking to Strangers” which is produced
by Dr. John who we were to see next in concert. Her
band was also very impressive. Her guitarist’s style evoked
images of Keith Richard or Ron Wood, he played a Gibson
Flying V for most songs and a vintage Fender Stratocaster
with a glass slide for other numbers whilst, her bassist laid
a solid foundation on his red Yamaha bass.
By the end of Shemkia’s
set the crowd were obviously enjoying the show put on by the
first two bands and suitably demonstrated this to the musicians
which huge rounds of applause and with a great atmosphere
that could be felt all round.
Well it was about to get even
better, as the charismatic New Orleans keyboard player Dr.
John (who takes his name from, the original 19th century
New Orleans healer) was about to take to the stage.
His band, consisting of Herman
Ernest on drums, David Barard on his Warwick
bass and John Fohl on his Stratocaster guitar,
started off with an instrumental intro which, shortly after
introduced the man himself - Dr. John who strode onto the
stage amongst great cheer from the audience and positioned
himself between a grand piano and a Hammond B3.
Dr. John played a selection of
his hits including “Food for Thot” from “Creole
Moon” (2001) and new songs from his album “N'Awlinz
- Dis Dat Or D'Udda” (2004).
Then came a bit of uncertainty
as the crowd wondered whether “Raimundo Amador” renown
flamenco/blues guitarist would be on next, I was quite sure
he was coming on as he was on the concert bill (although not
mentioned in the tickets or ticket website) and then a flamenco
nylon strung guitar was placed on the stage.
Raimundo from is from Seville
is very well known in Spain and learnt his craft at the age
of 13 under the name of Sargento Platillo. Later on he played
in bands such as “Veneno” and “Pata Negra” (formed with his
When Raimundo decided to embark
on a solo career, he sent B.B. King a demo, who invited him
to New York. The two guitarists were playing songs together
such as "Bolleré" and "Ay Morena" soon
Well in the next few minutes we were more confused but at
the same time exited as B.B King was coming on!
Once the stage was prepared his
band consisting of nine musicians, went through a long intro
each band member taking their turn to solo to the delight
of the crowd, with some the members of the horn section even
playing multiple instruments each and then B.B walked in amongst
a hearty welcome from the audience hailing their hero!
As is now usual (B.B is 78!) he
sat down and played an exiting repertoire with hits such as
“The Thrill is Gone” and “Sweet Little Angel”.
B.B. King is living proof of one thing for sure – style.
It doesn’t matter how many notes
or how fast you play them its how you play them and B.B makes
every note count. Each signature lick from his guitar Lucille
screams, wails, or whispers at will and at times its almost
as if B.B speaks through his guitar.
To our surprise towards the end
of the set our missing artist appeared! Raimundo Amador walked
on stage with stage attire akin to that worn by Stevie
Ray Vaughn and he was clutching a red Gibson 335 Dot
in his hands.
He sat in through a few songs
and played “mano a mano” with B.B to the delight of
Raimundo is a very accomplished
guitarist indeed and was even asked by B.B to sit in for a
few extra numbers.
The festival ended of with a Mardi
Gras style version “When the Saints Come Marching In” which
B.B thoughtfully dedicated to those souls lost over the last
An outstanding festival indeed,
especially as all the bands were great musicians and transmitted
their vibe to the audience, who certainly enjoyed the event.
By Ernest H Slade