Posted: 07/12/2011


B.B. King: Live

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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B.B. King is an iconic bluesman who has been around strumming out his joys and pains on his trademark Gibson guitar named Lucille for more than six decades. He sounds better than ever on what could be billed as a new 60-year anniversary DVD available July 12 from Image Entertainment.

In this Sound Stage performance to celebrate his unprecedented tenure as the consummate blues player, B.B. King measures out a litany of hits with a bit of help from Richie Sambora, Solange and pretty boy Terrance Howard. All this great entertainment has been recorded live and packed on a DVD called B.B. King: Live, a show that is both concert and celebration.

I love B.B. King, after having grown up in a household where my brother played guitar and would hold jam sessions regularly, I was exposed to a lot of his music. If that hadn’t been the case, my parents certainly listened to him on LPs, alternately while listening to the Rev. C.L. Franklin. But B.B. King (it’s sort of hard to just say Mr. King or B.B.) takes you to church, also. He makes the guitar moan, sing and ache all at the same time. Hits like How Many Years Will I Let You Treat Me Bad, Downhearted and The Thrill is Gone (which was performed twice, once with B.B. King and Solange singing and again with Sombaro playing a mean guitar solo) were performed effortlessly for a man who has to be at least in his 80’s.

B.B. King presents a concert filled with staggering guitar jams, while introducing his legendary band. The addition of the guest singers made the performance even better, with all three interacting well together.

As if playing the guitar and thrilling millions of fans around the world wasn’t enough, B.B. King’s awards are myriad: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, 15 Grammy Awards, National Heritage Fellowship, Kennedy Center Honors, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (presented by President George W. Bush). He has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, as well as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – and has been ranked by Rolling Stone and Time magazines as No. 3 on their lists of the greatest guitarists of all time.

B.B. King: Live is a chance to see and hear a legend at work, performing a list of bluesy, moving hits, including others not mentioned above: Everyday I Have the Blues, See That My Grave Is Kept Clean, I Need You So, I Got Some Help I Don’t Need (accompanied playfully by Howard), Nobody Loves Me But My Mother, Let the Good Times Roll, When The Saints Go Marching In (which Solange helped him deliver, while B.B. King beckoned the audience to join in) and Key to the Highway.

This DVD is not one to be missed, and it’s comfortably priced, so everyone can have a bit of history. B.B. King: Live, is available on DVD for a SRP of $14.98 and on Blu-ray™ for $17.97.
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Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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