Last Wednesday night, at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, BB King was in concert with Kenny Wayne Shepherd as the opening act. I love the blues, and specifically blues-rock. So much of rock as we know it today is based on the blues. All the big names, from Zep and the Stones, to Stevie Ray, were in some way influenced by the blues. Someone at the show mentioned that BB King was a legend. I think he is more than that. BB King is what normal everyday legends call a legend, and at 86 he is still going.
When it comes to hits, the big one for KW Shepherd is “Blue On Black”. He did that, along with 9 others, but the final song was a killer version of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child. Holy crap this guy can play! The Beatles “Yer Blues” was also a standout. While watching, I realized that I was seeing something special. I mean, not a “good guitar player” type special, or even a “great guitar player”, but something beyond that. I felt like this is what watching a young Stevie Ray must have been like.
The rest of the band was just as tight. There was one thing that was a surprise. I have always liked Noah Hunt’s vocals, but now I know that a studio does him no justice. I was constantly shocked at what this guy can do vocally. Gotta see him live again someday.
On bass was Tony Franklin, formerly of The Firm. He plays a fretless bass and has got to be one of the best I’ve seen. Drums were handled by Chris Layton, and it was no surprise he was Stevie Ray Vaughn’s drummer. On keyboards was well known studio player Riley Osbourne. Yeah, it was that good.
Kenny Wayne has been involved with BB King since he was a teen, and mentioned he considered King a father figure. King later returned the compliment noting he considers Shepherd like a son.
BB King, as I mentioned before, is a legend and more. 86 years old and kickin’ ass. Watching him play the blues is like watching any master display their skill. It’s pure gold. His band is large with horns, guitars, drums and more. He took the time to introduce the band at the start of the show and he seemed to be related to a lot of them.
The band opened alone with two songs before BB came out, and then they all did two more. At that point BB went into the introductions and some story telling. Half an hour into the show he had played on only those first two songs, and yet that was fine with everyone there. Listening to him tell stories was mesmerizing.
Bottom line with any show is that talent rules. When you see a legend, or a someday legend, it’s gonna be good.
Part of the show experience to me is that the Fox, Riverside is a great place to see a show. I’ve mentioned before how I like the venue, I grew up watching movies there, but it’s more than that. To have this place locally to see these great shows is wonderful, and this show sounded great.