Blues royalty will descend upon our city next week, and with a sold-out show on his concert calendar, B.B. King is being met with a welcome befitting a king.
Blues icon Riley B. King — B.B. King to me and you — is wholly deserving of a friendly reception as he is back on Island soil for the first time in almost six years. The good news? At 87, the only living king of the blues is passing through for yet another sizzling showcase. The bad news? His concert set for Wednesday at the University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium is already sold out.
The extremely bad news? With his touring commitments ever dwindling, this might be the final local appearance from one of the best in the business.
King kicks off our weekly rundown of the new/notable and weird/wonderful, otherwise known as Singles Going Steady.
1. B.B. King, How Blue Can You Get (Live at Cook County Jail).
King’s soulful take on the Leonard Feather original has transformed How Blue Can You Get into one of King’s staple songs, and a highlight of his live set. The song became entrenched in the public consciousness following his 1971 album, Live in Cook County Jail, an eight-song set without a bunk offering in the bunch. With performances like this in his back catalogue, it’s no wonder his concert in Victoria sold out in less than four hours.
2. Leonard Cohen, Closing Time.
There’s plenty to like about Old Ideas, the 12th album from troubadour Leonard Cohen. In fact, its contributions to his in-progress tour, which stops Wednesday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, has made his oeuvre-stretching setlist stronger than ever. But there’s no shame is going back to 1992 and his previous comeback, Closing Time. The album’s title track remains one of his finest compositions; it’s a swarthy, soulful, barroom beauty.
3. David Bowie, The Stars (Are Out Tonight).
David Bowie shook up his longtime fans in January with a spanking-new single Where Are We Now? and news of a forthcoming new album, his first since 2003. Bowie, 66, released a second single and video, The Stars (Are Out Tonight), last week, and on Thursday announced that his upcoming 24th album, The Next Day, would be streamed for free on iTunes until March 12. The time out of the spotlight served him well: The record has drawn universal acclaim, setting the stage for what should be one of the year’s most successful tours.
4. Method Man, Release Yo Delf (Prodigy remix).
Method Man continues to shine more than two decades after his first on-record appearance with his bandmates in the Wu-Tang Clan. The New York native has parlayed his larger-than-life personality into a busy film and TV career, but nothing can match his on-mike talent: Big and booming, with as much ferocity as finesse, he’s the consummate rapper. His Victoria debut on Wednesday at Club 9ONE9 will be one of the year’s most righteous rap highlights.
5. The Juice Crew featuring Masta Ace, The Symphony.
The soulful thump of producer Marley Marl’s The Symphony is the bar against which other posse cuts are measured. With stand-out verses by old-school kings Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane, nothing sounded better in 1988. Masta Ace kicked off the party with style, getting the track up to peak speed in a hurry. The New Yorker has since enjoyed a successful solo career — which brings him to Lucky Bar on Thursday — but hearing him spit gems in his youth is solid gold.
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