B.B King Blues Festival
25th June 2004 – Granada, Spain

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 Copeland.

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 tickets.

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 brother Rafael).

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 after.

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 the audience.

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 year.

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
www.gear-review.co.uk

 

Shemekia Copeland
The Funk On Me
Dr. John
Voodoo
Raimundo and BB King
The Man Himself
All Together Now
Young BB
 


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