Friday, September 2, 2005

BB's B-Day

Here's the Shawn Kellerman Band at the House of Blues Voodoo Louge just outside the Molson Amphitheatre. It was a post-concert party to celebrate BB King's 8oth Birthday but BB couldn't make it. As the man said, "he *is* 80 years old." The Voodoo Lounge is a multi-level south-sea style patio bar. They gave away a beautiful Gibson BB King model. I never did see a cake. Maybe it came out later. Shawn Kellerman's band (with Douglas Watson on bass) were cooking up a storm - no let up - just one high energy blues tune after another.

For whatever reason, I received media accreditation for the House of Blues presentation of BB King's 80th Birthday concert at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto. I could never count on a media ticket with HoB - I think they have a limited (very limited) amount of media tickets and if all the daily papers and the TV stations want in, then forget this (barely)managing editor of a little blues newsletter. However Barry, a photographer friend had asked me to fax them a request so I put my name on it too...never expecting to get approved. In fact, I was planning on seeing British bluesman Steve Payne who was playing in town that night with Al lerman. Alas the approval came in the same day as the show and I made my way over in my car (first mistake). The CNE was on (that's the big national fair), Cirque du Soleil was also set up in their big top and when I got close to the Amphitheatre, I could see that parking was going to be a problem. After inching along for twenty minutes (the show had started by now). I pulled a quick u-turn into the CNE parking. I had to pay $23 to park there, and I still had a long walk but my trial was not over.

When I got to the box office there was no record of me. Finally after checking on every possible publication or organization I might be listed under, they finally gave me my ticket. And even though the box office was filled with fresh-faced kids, they were all working on their most intimidating expression and you could tell no one was ever going to pull a fast one on these kids. They would have fit right in with the civil-servant (fonctionaire) mentality of the 50s and 60s. Everything by the book. No power of discretion or individual thinking.

So what about the music? Well by the time I stepped into my (very good) seat , David Gogo was finishing his set with a big wah-wah finale and his own rousing tribute to BB. I missed Shawn Kellerman but then he was playing at the after-party so I got to hear him there and he too was on fire.

Kenny Wayne Sheppard played just before BB and he rocked the house. Three guitarists in a row that were putting out more notes than you would think possible - sometimes jaw-dropping virtuosity, other times a little over-excited. All this leading up to the most restrained (and refined) blues guitarist still living. Someone who would pride himself on mostly playing just one note at a time...but the *right* note.

BB played eight or so songs and he was in fine form. He might have been wiped when he finished the set, but you never would have known it. Except for the fact that he was sitting down throughout the performance, he sure was in good spirits and playing just fine. Even though he talked a lot in this show, it did not drag things down because he would start the song (usually with a guitar intro) before the applause had died down from the previous song. He gave his all to every song and when the fans were clamoring for an encore, when he stepped back on the stage he was wearing his hat and overcoat...his way of saying "I'm outa here".

Oh yeah, what about my little album??? Well, besides the fact that I should have been at home practicing instead of out listening to BB...a couple of reviews have floated in and as I bop about the web I find myself on various websites besides - there I was on Festival Distribution's website and Crowsfeet, our US publicist. Ontario and Quebec tours are taking shape and I'm gearing up for the big time. Today I did a big cleanup and found a whack of flat picks and I have strategically placed them throughout the house. Now I should put some in every guitar case and pocket. Never again will I be caught without a pick when I need one - although I mostly just use my fingers. Now I must remember to get to the nail salon this week and get some of that acrylic stuff put on my three most important nails...then I'm really ready for the big time