Slow and Steady
January 14, 2010 12:32 AM   Subscribe

B.B. King plays to a New York prison audience on Thanksgiving Day 1972 "How Blue Can You Get." Plus, bonus SRV inside.

Filmed by veteran documentary-filmmaker David Hoffman (he left a comment on the YT thread quite recently, a week ago at the time of this post).

I particularly like the crowd shots. These people probably rarely hear live music at all, let alone a charismatic blues master. Their ecstatic-ness makes me ecstatic. Ecstatic^2.

Additionally, a seriously powerful slow blues performance from Stevie Ray Vaughan. Again, crowd response lends a lot to the energy. Tin Pan Alley (Part 1, Part 2) (Transitions to Dirty Pool halfway through part 2, in case there is confusion)
- Performance in Tokyo in the early-mid 80's.
- Warning: this is very slow blues, but so intense.
- Positive crowd banter throughout, but listen for "you're not my father!" at around 2:25.
posted by captain cosine (22 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
posted by bigmusic at 12:51 AM on January 14, 2010

posted by Abiezer at 1:18 AM on January 14, 2010

Sorry to get my Chicago pride on too much, but NOTHING will ever beat the recording of B.B. King Live at the Cook County Jail. Special mention for the way they boo the county sherriff when he is introduced.
posted by timsteil at 2:30 AM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Since the first time I saw this performance of B.B. King, it made me wonder about the prison playing of popular artists in the sixties and seventies. Johnny Cash played at Folsom prison, B.B. played at Sing Sing, and the Blues Brothers played at Joliet. Was it easier to do back then? Are there more examples? Any recent examples? That might make a good fpp...
posted by GregorWill at 2:40 AM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

timsteil, that's also an excellent recording! Makes me want to time travel to the concert and get HD video....alas....
posted by captain cosine at 2:42 AM on January 14, 2010

Oh thank you. B.B. and Stevie doubleshot happiness.

I saw Stevie Ray play for the first time when he hopped up and joined his brother on stage (with Albert King) at Antones in Austin in 1988. I saw him last on the same tour on which he died.

Every SRV song is always on my iPod, and a day doesn't go by when I don't listen to him. He was a transcendent genius and I fucking can't believe he died so young. I used to feel guilty for thinking a white player was the equal of the very best black guitarists in history. Then Buddy Guy said he thought SRV was the best player ever, so I relaxed and accepted what my ears were telling me. Anyone who plays guitar seriously, as I do, has to listen to him and weep at the sheer fluidity, inventiveness, and expressiveness of his playing. It just sucks so much that we lost him so young. Music would have been different had he lived.

B.B., of course, made SRV (and most other modern guitarists) possible.

Also, relevantly, Teddy Pendergrass has died at 59. I've done an FPP obit (for John Storm Roberts) in the last week, but someone should memorialize Teddy. What a voice.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:02 AM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

misfiled, but still...Teddy
posted by timsteil at 4:16 AM on January 14, 2010

Quite some time ago (mid 90s) I was at Antone's record store in Austin, checking out a B.B. King recording of him playing a show at the women's prison where his daughter was serving a sentence. He did actually meet his daughter after a show at the women's prison in Gainesville in 1993, but after a little Googling I can't find any mention of an album of the event having been recorded and released. Perhaps a vinyl bootleg?

As for bands playing at institutions, my favorite is the Cramps playing at Napa Mental Health Hospital.
posted by BigSky at 4:22 AM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

posted by punkfloyd at 4:33 AM on January 14, 2010

fourcheesemac pretty much summed up how I feel about SRV, who is my favourite favourite of all my favourites. I never got to see him play, even though he did come to my home town. He was the first musician I ever heard who made me understand what people were talking about when they said someone made an instrument talk, and it's like his playing bypasses my ears and goes straight into my brain and talks to me.

I loves me some blues. Thanks for this post.
posted by biscotti at 6:59 AM on January 14, 2010

It just sucks so much that we lost him so young.

It will be 20 years ago this August 27th.

About a year before he died, I was in the 7th or 8th grade and a friend asked me if I wanted to go see him in concert. I said no because I didn't really know who he was and I was all about metal like Metallica and Slayer.

A year later my family moved to Dallas shortly before he died and I remember how the city seemed to go into mourning after his death. There were memorial banners hanging on highway overpasses and lots of cars with SRV RIP written on the back windows with white shoe polish. And of course, the music was all over the radio and I realized what I had been missing. I went out soon after and bought every album on cassette. Texas Flood is still my favorite.
posted by chillmost at 7:29 AM on January 14, 2010

I went to SRVs funeral in 1990 and this guy was crying.
posted by punkfloyd at 7:33 AM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

One thing I love about Austin is that they built an SRV statue by the river. Any city that builds a statue for a fallen guitarist is alright with me.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:34 AM on January 14, 2010

Are there more examples? Any recent examples? That might make a good fpp...

More here.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:39 AM on January 14, 2010

You can get the DVD on Netflix.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:01 AM on January 14, 2010

Wow, great performance, great piece of film-making. Way beyond the usual "Last Waltz" cliches of most performance movies.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:25 AM on January 14, 2010

re: Playing in contemporary prisons, I imagine the intense racial divides make it very very hard to pick an act that would please everyone. The Metallica thing actually seems like a pretty big "fuck you" to the non-white inmates. (Yes I know some non-white people like Metallica, but I think they could have at least balanced it with a hip-hop and/or Spanish-language act.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:28 AM on January 14, 2010

Various Bay Area performance poets have played in San Quentin from time to time. Apparently there's a growing audience there for it; now when they go, they have afternoon workshops followed by evening shows, both for the pros and the inmates.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:34 PM on January 14, 2010

Then Buddy Guy said he thought SRV was the best player ever, so I relaxed and accepted what my ears were telling me.

Which is a huge complement, considering Guy is the greatest blues guitarist I've ever heard. In fact, his combination of voice and guitar is the unbeatable. SRV isn't in the same class, though I love him, but had better material.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 2:38 PM on January 14, 2010

Friend: - Hey Man we're going to see SRV...wanna come"

Me: - (currently host of a blues radio show), Nah..i got all his records, and I have to get up early for work. It's too long a damn drive.

Sit down for lunch the next day ,take a sip of my beer. the owner walks over and ask's if had heard.
posted by timsteil at 3:55 PM on January 14, 2010

Well, Hell. That was just DAMN fine!
posted by TDavis at 5:23 PM on January 14, 2010

B.B. King clip: 5 stars out of five. Stevie Ray Vaughn clip: I just went outside and looked up in the sky. God better make one hell of a lot more stars before I can even BEGIN to rate that one...
posted by Quasimike at 9:55 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older Bat Boy's Back and Ed Anger's Angry!   |   Teddy Pendergrass 1950 - 2010 Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments