On Thursday, November 29th 2012, a standing room only crowd were served a royal helping of the blues by none other than the The King Of Blues himself, Mr. B.B. King. King rocked the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in a rare appearance at his own Times Square venue. Opening for King was the Alexis P. Suter Band, a rising roots, soul and blues powerhouse band with its roots in New York City.
King has seen his share of talent in his nearly seventy years of performing worldwide. Invited back for their fourth time to open the show, Mr. King had high praise for his opening act, saying “It’s a rare thing to share the stage with great talent like that young lady.” Having captured the attention of music greats like King and Levon Helm, and garnering a nomination for Best Blues Soul Female Artist at the Blues Music Awards, the Alexis P. Suter Band performed a solid forty minute set featuring songs off of their latest Hipbone Records release titled Two Sides. Vocalist Suter brought her signature baritone and impressive stage presence to “John The Revelator,” “Didn’t It Rain”, and the powerful “Rise”, weaving seamlessly into the traditional gospel staple “Morning Train”.
With the stage well set and the crowd expertly primed it was time for The King to hold court in the intimate venue. Backed by his exceptional eight piece band, who are tuned into Mr. King’s every nuance, the 87 year old music icon was in fine form and strong voice throughout his just under two hour performance. Expertly backed by bandleader James Bolden, longtime member of the horn section Stanley Abernathy, B.B. ‘s nephew, Walter King and historic drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, who joined the band for the closing number, King performed just over a handful of songs during the entire set, holding the crowd in the palm of his hand every second of the way. The King of Blues indulged listeners with a set list that included “Rock Me Baby”, “Key To The Highway”, “You Are My Sunshine” and the inimitable “The Thrill is Gone”. King unified each song into his performance by sharing stories of his life and flirting with the ladies in the audience. Post show he was gracious, posing for pictures, giving mementos out to adoring fans and signing autographs until almost midnight. Every performance is a rare and special evening when B.B. King takes the stage, and none more special than at the club that bears the name of this living blues legend.
– Michael Cloeren