From L-R – Darrell LaVigne, Walker King, Herman Jackson, Lamar Boulet, Michael Lee, James Boogaloo Bolden, Eric Demmer, Russell Jackson & Wilbert Crosby.
Photo credit: Ron Fontenot
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The BB King Blues Band

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The Soul Of The King
Ruf Records – May 10, 2019

Long live the King. Four years since the passing of the great B.B. King, his towering influence over the blues world, and beyond, remains undimmed. From the long-standing fans still held spellbound by 1965’s classic Live At The Regal album, to the young guitarists adding a shiver of vibrato to an emotive solo, King’s music will never be forgotten. And this year, the iconic bluesman’s presence is felt stronger than ever, as his spirit imbues a star-studded new album, The Soul of The King.

The term ‘legend’ doesn’t do justice to B.B. King. The eight-decade story of how a Mississippi cotton-picker rose to the heights of the blues. changing the genre forever with his soul-drenched voice and ‘one-note’ touch. is told by his acclaimed studio catalogue and fabled live shows. Now, as the men who walked alongside him every step of the way for over 35 years, The B.B. King Blues Band write the next chapter, on an album that salutes King’s classic songs and showcases their own. “It’s important,” nods executive producer Terry Harvey, “to continue what he started.”

Recorded at Hollywood’s Paramount Studios and Houston’s Lucky Run Studios,The Soul Of The King finds The B.B. King Blues Band writing ten of the thirteen tracks that stand alongside their late leader’s catalogue. There’s the addictive brass-bolstered shuffle of “Low Down,” the slow-burn balladry of “She’s The One,” the spring-heeled funk of “Taking Care of Business,” and trumpet legend James ‘Boogaloo’ Bolden’s own “Hey There Pretty Woman.” Joe Louis Walker gives a soulful tip of the hat on “Regal Blues.” There’s a heartfelt turn from Michael Lee on “The Thrill Is Gone.” Mary Griffin and Taj Mahal combine their vocal and guitar talents on “Paying The Cost To Be The Boss.” Kenny Neal lends poignant vocals and licks to “Sweet Little Angel.” And then there’s Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s masterful solo on the opening track “Irene Irene” that the King would surely approve of.

The members of B.B.’s band are all lifers, some of the members clocking in at 35 years. Not only did they support King, but they would start each show by performing onstage before BB came out. After King passed, the band was naturally at a loss until they started playing some festivals and eventually got their footing back. The current lineup includes: Michael Lee (Lead Vocals. Lead Guitar,) James “Boogaloo” Bolden (Trumpet,) Russell Jackson (Bass and Vocals), Herman Jackson (Drums,) Eric Demmer (Saxophone,) Wilbert Crosby (Guitar and Vocals,) Lamar Boulet (Trumpet,) Darrell Lavigne (Keyboards,) and Walter King (Saxophone).

The Soul Of The King reminds us that The B.B. King Blues Band are a line-up moving forward, writing a love-letter to their fallen leader while staking their own claim in the modern era. Bandleader James ‘Boogaloo’ Bolden speaks for the band when he says, “We’re so excited to finally be able to keep our word to the world as direct musical descendants of B.B. King,) we are keeping his legacy alive.

Track Listing

Pay The Cost
There Must Be a Better World Somewhere
Sweet Little Angel
Low Down
She’s the One
Taking Care of Business
Becoming the Blues
Hey There Pretty Woman
Here Today Gone Tomorrow
Regal Blues (A Tribute To The King)
Pocket Full of Money
No News Just The Blues
The Thrill is Gone
Pay The Cost to be the Boss

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