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What BB King means to me... Options
pentatonic
Posted: Friday, November 05, 2010 6:02:17 PM
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Firstly, a big thanks and well done to Peter and BluesFest team for a stellar line up. Really looking forward to next year.

BB King means so much to me.

When I first heard the blues, it was through BB. I had never heard a sound like it, and I was immediately on a mission to know more. At the time I was a financially destitute uni student, living off of friends, a meager Austudy allowance and a diet of weetbix and vegemite toast.

I used to visit music shops and browse the blues sections and "budget bins" full of blues tapes. I picked up a BB King cassette for a few dollars (about $2 I think). I played it until it broke, and I knew that I needed to get a guitar.....

From this passion came a thorough study in blues history and folklore.

Then one day, I noticed in the music shop a BB King tablature book. Right there and then I put that book on lay-bye so that I could learn some of his guitar work. It took a few weeks to pay off this $25 book! I'm sure the staff at the music shop thought I was nuts. I didn't care.

When the book was finally mine, I played every note, every song and every chord...

Fast-forward 20 years...

I am no longer a struggling student, and am privileged to posses a few guitars. I have since found a CD version of that worn-out tape, play it regularly and blissfully jam along with BB. The version of "Sweet Sixteen" and "How blue can you get?" on that CD remain some of my all time favourite electric blues. His vocals are killer on these.

Anyway, just thought I would bare a bit of soul here and share my thoughts.

See you at Bluesfest 2011 - I'll be the guy front and centre at BB's performance.

ScottM
Posted: Saturday, November 06, 2010 9:48:18 AM
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Great post. Nothing to add.
bluesfestadmin
Posted: Saturday, November 06, 2010 11:09:58 AM
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When I was a young promoter (1978)- by default -as I had been fired from a band in Victoria British Columbia- and had made my way to Portland Oregon and asked my soon to be ex-wife, who I was separated from, if I could crash at her house for a day or two, and thanked god when she took me in.....as I literally had nowhere else to go - but the streets.....this is my BB King story.
I was broke and walking down the street - when I saw a sign outside the downtown Heathman Hotel saying 'American Entertainment'.....I walked into an office which did not look at all like an entertainment agency - but more like a real estate business....which in fact it was -specialising in renting houses in the poor black part of town and sending heavies out to menace people who were late in paying their rent.

I told the guy who ran the place that I could book bands and had plenty of experience doing it....all I needed was a hotel room and for him to buy me breakfast every day and I'd work for commission - (read I had no money) and he said yes - God bless him.......so he got me a cheap hotel room under the kitchen in the hotel- where you could count up to 40 cockroaches crawling on the wall nightly, and I got up early every day and went to a cheap restaurant to eat the breakfast he would buy me, before I went to work, as he met with his crim mates who were in the process of creating a church, called ' The Church of the Helping Hand' so they could run a legal bingo game in the Hilton hotel - with a grand prize if you hit the jackpot of land in Hawaii, which they didn't own (and the unexpected winner was about to find this out).....but that is another story....
So I started booking bands from a cheap desk, in a single light bulb room, in a cheap hotel- and to make a long story short - booked a couple from an agent friend in Canada which made American Entertainment good money in clubs in Portland- so being hustlers - they asked if I could find any bands to play in The 2,000 capacity Paramount Theatre next door to the hotel (which is now 5 star - but then was almost falling down)so guess what - I went after BB King to play......and booked him - my first EVER major promotion presented by American Entertainment.
When I got sound system quotes, I couldn't figure out why the 'house system' in the theatre cost so much more than one I could hire and bring in that was it's equal....(I should have thought that one out).
So BB came to Portland to play the Paramount Theatre to an almost sold out show using the sound system I had found- and after the opening act played, and intermission, BB started his performance.....and guess what - the sound system blew up in the first song- and the only thing working was the on stage monitor wedges....the sound system had been well and truly sabotaged during intermission as a message ......anyway, BB stopped his performance, and had the small sound monitor wedges turned around, and told the audience in the theatre - that he knew they couldn't hear him as well as he wanted them to - BUT, never fear - this show was going to go on - and he would not leave until he had played EVERY song they wanted to hear - and I don't know how many hours he played for - I was so embarrassed- my first big promotion had litterally gone to sh*t - and after 2 or more hours. ...he finished after playing all his repertoire and ALL the requests - and turned what could have been a dismal night in to a triumph with a majestic dazzling performance by the KING of The Blues- a show that you would speak about forever - just like I am over 30 years later....THEN - after all that, BB went once more to the mike - and said he wanted to meet EVERYONE in the theatre who wanted to meet him, get an autograph, get their pic taken ...whatever, and he was not going home that night until he had met EVERYONE who wanted to meet him- and he stood on stage for over another hour- AND THEN rght at the end - when I plucked up the courage to thank him - he signed a picture for me.....he wrote on it
'Stay With It' - that signed picture is STILL on my desk in my office- it is one of the most important things I own....and THEN, as she later told me, after that- he asked my now ex-wife to go home with him that night (I think she said no - crazy girl)...........
BB came BACK to the sold out Paramount theatre in Portland Oregon the next year.....and was presented by a young promoter who had just turned 30 years old, doing his first ever solo promotion....and guess who his name was - Peter Noble- AND, the in house sound system worked just fine.
Although he sent me Christmas cards for the next few years - I have never got to work again with BB since that time.
So, do you think I am hanging out for Bluesfest. and BB.............you better believe it
Peter Noble
Festival Director
Bluesfest
greybeard
Posted: Saturday, November 06, 2010 4:41:56 PM

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Two terrific stories
Pete's infrequent reminisces are always gold
Thanks again

Heading out for the East Coast / Lord knows I've paid some dues gettin' through, / Tangled up in blues.
oldbilly1
Posted: Saturday, November 06, 2010 4:43:06 PM
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greybeard wrote:
Two terrific stories
Pete's infrequent reminisces are always gold
Thanks again


agreed - loved it.
ScottM
Posted: Saturday, November 06, 2010 9:11:29 PM
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These stories really just add to my being gutted that I won't be there. BB King is truly THE booking of this festival's history. The biggest "missing piece" of 22 years of lineups. I honestly never thought it would happen.
repete
Posted: Saturday, November 06, 2010 11:54:27 PM
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That's a great read Peter - I wish you could find the time to put all your stories together into a book (including a dvd of the history of bluesfest!). Early last year I purchased tickets to see BB King at the HOB, excited to see the great man for the first time. Like Scott feels now I was gutted when the show was cancelled 2 days before landing in New Orleans. Given his age, I never thought I was ever going to get another chance to see him. Thank you so much.....!

Hangin' out on Frenchmen
BluesonlyBlues
Posted: Monday, November 08, 2010 11:58:35 PM
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Great stories. Fascinating read. Thanks. My story is nowhere near as exciting but still important to me. I was going to go to see BB in Chicago last year. I was heartbroken that I couldn't go and ended up going to Bluesfest which was still fab. I was sure I would never get to see him live. I was really sick for a few years and I would listen to him nearly every day and I swear he got me better. I feel like I know him so well and get goosebumps when I realise I WILL get to see him. Just hope he holds on for us. :)
richo
Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 9:02:48 AM
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Seems like it's time for a positive B.B. King story...

Yeah I figured we'd never have the chance to see him in Australia. It also happened that in all my US travels (I end up over there once a year or so) our paths have never crossed. Then about a year ago it finally worked. I was heading from Miami to Seattle, and if I stopped off in Atlanta, rented a car, drove about an hour to Athens, got an overpriced hotel room way out of town (there was a college football game the following day so the place was overflowing with visitors and hotel rates reflected this) I'd finally get to do it. By some miracle, even though I bought my ticket only a couple of weeks before the show, there was one single front row seat available. Based on the seating chart I expected it to be way off to the side, but I figured still better than being way up the back with all the other available seats, so I jumped on it.

When I got to the venue I pleasantly discovered that the seating chart didn't take into account the fact that there were only about a dozen seats in the front row. I was sitting maybe 3-4 metres from B.B. King -- no front rail and a lovely low stage. I was pretty sure this was meant to be... and what followed was one of the most amazing shows I've seen.

The pure showmanship and charisma is what won over. That's on top of that searing, smokey voice and every hot, melting note on Lucille. He was on stage for the better part of two hours, spending almost as much of the night talking to the crowd as playing. I notice in reviews of his live show that this rubs some the wrong way, but when we're talking the legacy of an 85 (then 84) year old bluesman, I want to hear every piece of wisdom, every corny joke and every moment of charming that crowd. I know I'll hear the songs, and he certainly delivers. The image of him wailing with all his lungs into a microphone from a foot away in a manner that musucians half his age don't do as well is something I'll never forget. I've never seen a guitarist retune mid-song by ear while still playing. I don't think I've ever left a show with such a smile on my face.

Between flights, car, accommodation and a ticket to the show I could have almost paid for my entire Bluesfest weekend in that one night. Worth it and then some.
jaaaaa
Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010 4:12:43 PM
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Great stories!!

Did anyone catch BB King when he was the support act for U2? Back in the late 80's (Thanks Google)
He did his own tour as well - so got to see him twice in a short time. Both at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

Unnnreeeeal. Meeesteeeer Beee Beee King will be superb to see at Blues Fest - where he will get the respect he deserves!!


Artsy84
Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010 9:09:44 PM
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One of the first CD's I owned was a BB King CD someone gave me.. Yes I'm showing my age here haha.. But it's going to be amazing to see the man live. Great stories!
hopciti
Posted: Saturday, November 27, 2010 3:21:47 PM
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Great thread guys, know where I'll be on the friday night :)
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