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“Now Appearing” Live at Ole Miss

“The audio recordings of a 1979 BB King concert in Russia from behind the Iron Curtain have never been heard until now.

Howard Leder, a New York-based music producer and arranger, had a long career, but one of the highlights was when King hired him to work on a live concert album.

Leder mentioned that BB King hired him, right after the Russian tour, to work on producing a live album.”

 

World Blue Records produced and arranged for B.B. King’s Grammy Nominated “Now Appearing at Ole Miss” for MCA Records in 1980.

King has always been a consummate showman, to the extent that it’s often seemed like his mission to prove that the blues can be played uptown, in nightclubs and theaters, not just on backporches and in smoky bars. His outsized personality and natural gift for engaging a crowd are evident on this two-disc live recording. It probably didn’t hurt B.B.’s confidence any that he was in his home state of Mississippi, either.

Backed by a full complement of swinging, almost jazzy players, including King’s usual horn section and organ, the Blues Boy revels in the interaction between performer and audience. After charging out of the gate with an exceptionally fierce version of “Caldonia,” King goes on to mesmerize his listeners with a good-humored monologue about the battle of the sexes, which he intersperses with a medley of blues tunes. Included in this effective showpiece is one of the most trenchant couplets King has ever written: “Nobody loves me but my mother/And she could be jiving too.” Fortunately, salvation lurks close at hand in the form of his stinging guitar work and the joyous communion between King, his band and the audience. This communion is what makes OLE MISS a memorable event.

Personnel: B.B. King (vocals, guitar); Leonard Gill, John Jones (guitar); Hilton C. Joseph (tenor saxophone); Edgar Synigal (baritone saxophone); Lonny LaLanne, Calvin Owens, John Willie Cook (trumpet); Steve Sherard (trombone); Phil Blackman (keyboards); Russell Jackson (bass); Calep Emphrey (drums); Nana Vasconcelos (percussion).

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