The King of Blues took the stage at the Independence Events Center on Tuesday night, and his highness, B.B. King, delivered what can be described in one short statement as a “totally entertaining” performance of song, music and storytelling. 

The King of Blues took the stage at the Independence Events Center on Tuesday night, and his highness, B.B. King, delivered what can be described in one short statement as a “totally entertaining” performance of song, music and storytelling.  

Born Riley B. King in the small town of Indianola, Miss., on Sept. 16, 1925, B.B. has seen 85 years of music, world changes and life. His show gives you a glimpse into all three. He engaged his audience in the show with sing-a-longs, audience banter and allowing the fans to come to the stage at the end of the show. Their responsiveness  seemed to delight him and fuel his performance.

His band is phenomenal and includes a multi-talented brass section along with guitarist, bass player, drummer and keyboard/piano player. Never discount the other band member, King himself playing his beloved “Lucille.” No one plays a guitar like B.B. King.  

A short side note for those who may not have heard the famed story of “Lucille.” King’s guitar got her name when he played a club back in the early days. A brawl broke out, causing a kerosene heater to fall over and catch fire. King rushed out of the burning building along with everyone else and then remembered the $30 guitar he had left behind. The Gibson was rescued, but B.B. almost caused his own demise. Later he learned that the fight had started over a woman named, “Lucille,” and hence he gave her name given to the guitar he risked his life to save. Lucille is a constant reminder for King to never do anything like that again.

Along with classic instrumental offerings, King and his band performed the hits and a song newer to his repertoire, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” a song from the late 1920s.

In between musical selections he told stories, laughed and joked with his band and the crowd. If the band seemed to want to move on to the music before he was ready he admonished them with a laugh, “don’t RUSH me” or “never rush an old man” or “I’m going to work in a moment.”

King traded licks with the drummer, both enjoying themselves, which was a catalyst once again for the audience.  The blues just didn’t make you so blue when King was performing the selections.

His own “chair dancing” antics also delighted the crowd, and they responded with a little boogie-woogie themselves. This wasn’t the sort of show where you just sat in your seat all night. If you didn’t feel it, you must have been sound asleep.  

King’s wisdom of years was evident when he spoke of loving all kinds of music, but lacking tolerance for any song whose lyrics were not kind to his “angels,” as he called all women.

Not at all contrived, but definitely heart-felt, King talked about how a man should treat a woman and even strategies to please her and win her heart. He also quipped that women can “out drink us, out think us and do most other things we can’t do!” But that comes from a man who stated that while others were out enjoying other substances he was enjoying women. Nice to know a sense of humor and playfulness, as well as wisdom, are alive and well even into 85 years of life.

He followed his conversation on women with the classic, “You Are My Sunshine,” asking women to sing along and the men to thank their lady with a kiss.

Never doubt someone’s ability to pursue their passion at any age.  King’s vocals were smooth and resounding. If he isn’t singing, “Lucille” is singing for him, and he definitely can make that woman sing!  

Classic King hits rolled through the banter. The set list included, “I Need You So,” “Nobody Loves Me But My Mother,” “Key to the Highway” and “Rock Me, Baby.” It was the blues with big band,  swing and so much more that you just have to call it “good.” When the music is good, it doesn’t need a label.

With “The Thrill is Gone,” the audience ended their visit in the living room of King. For after all, King doesn’t seem more at home any place than right on that stage in front of his friends, just hanging out and playing music. That was affirmed with his own words, “I’m gonna do this ‘til the day I die.”

There’s not a doubt in anyone’s mind he means each and every word.