Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

The O.G. Beebs

| March 19, 2012

Nothing against Justin Bieber — may he enjoy a long, fruitful career until his imminent usurper comes along — but long before there was “Beebs” (and perhaps long after) there came B.B. King. And he keeps on coming. Van Hunt also plays this week.

Absent embarrassing retiring/unretiring announcements, battling diabetes, and almost single-handedly maintaining Memphis blues’ rep, B.B. King stylishly does what he always has. Obviously he’s older and sits during the majority of his sets, but those hurdles don’t keep his fingers and tenderized vocal chords at bay. The latest document of his unrelenting march, Live At The Royal Albert Hall 2011 (Shout Factory), gathers a familiar coterie of all-star progeny (Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Slash, Ron Wood, Mick Hucknall), and shows King playing the royal. He’s still a sharp storyteller as well, saying of Hucknall, “I never heard a white man sing like he sang.” (Thursday&Friday@House Of Blues.)

When Raphael Saadiq dropped the crackling Stone Rollin‘ last year, rock fans nearly shot milk out their noses at the sound of a neo-soul softie throwing back to the days when R&B and R’N’R weren’t so polarized. Van Hunt‘s What Were You Hoping For?, which bowed later in 2011, brushed aside the pretenses of retroism and just threw down. Back for a victory lap, Hunt seized on the fiery attitude of Arthur Lee and zigzagged all over the color barrier, and cruised past the generic one-love tropes of Lenny Kravitz. What Were You Hoping For? is a living, breathing rock album that — temporarily at least — assuages the worries that the only way for a black man to make it in rock is with a specific, iconic homage. (Thursday@Lincoln Hall.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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