See B.B. King Live In Florida

On January 11, 2012 by Kevin Forde

From the party strewn streets of Miami to the more sedate family experience of a certain theme park in Orlando, you’ve got a lot of options when it comes to a holiday to Florida.  Something that isn’t often considered when choosing a getaway destination in this part of the world, however,  is music.  Perhaps this year, though, you should make an exception, for on April Fool’s Day B.B. King  returns to the Sunshine State.

Some things seem like they’ve been around forever. Soap operas, prostitution and market research have probably been with us since man first crawled out of a cave and wondered what pants to wear. The blues probably beats them all, though.  Emerging from the swampy cotton-fields of the Mississippi delta in the early part of the 20th century, it’s a form of music that can be traced right back through the centuries to Africa.

It gained cultural traction in the 1940s, though, and from there looked briefly set to conquer the world.  Well, that was until a swivel-hipped young singer named Elvis accidently invented rock ‘n’ roll. After that, the blues never really stood a chance.

Of all the genres stars of the early fifties and sixties, few burned as bright and lasted as long as the man born Riley B. King way back in 1925. In recent years, the likes of Johnny Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and Honeyboy Edwards have all gone to the big blues jam in the sky, leaving us with few artists who can trace their lineage right back to the R&B boom of the fifties, and the bust of, well, the seventies onwards. Those who remember and indeed played with the likes of Robert Johnson, Leadbelly and Charley Patton are all but gone but B. B. remains and, remarkably, still plays Lucille (the name of his guitar) on tour to grateful audiences around the world.

King’s popularity has always had a lot to do with his versatility – he’s really more of a soul singer than a straight up bluesman – but that would mean nothing without the material to back it up. Classics like the The Thrill Is Gone, Everyday I Have The Blues and the  remarkable Hummingbird – not to mention his song stealing cameo on U2′s When Love Comes To Town – have won him fans the world over, including many who wouldn’t dream of picking up a regular blues record.  In many ways he’s sort of that music’s Johnny Cash, you don’t have to like country to get Cash and you don’t have to understand the blues to dig B.B..

At 86 years young King has played more than 15,000 shows throughout his career and the number is climbing. He’s touring all over the US in 2012 and arrives back in the Sunrise Theatre in Florida on April 1.