Americans have some interesting people we look to as our heroes. Of course athletes seem to fill our lists of heroes but there is a fascination with royalty and legends. Its not much of a stretch to think that the "legends" list is filled with professional athletes and movie stars. The fascination with royalty is an odd one for me but not for the reasons one may think. Certainly the mixture of legend and royalty is as rare as ice in purgatory but when it happens it can be a beautiful thing.
When one looks to the Constitution of the United States one may notice within its lines and prose there lies a single sentence that explains the role royalty plays inside our borders (see Article I, Section 9, Clause 8). In a condensed form it prohibits American citizens from receiving titles of nobility. It is with a certain amount of confusion with a splash of clarity when one thinks how giddy Americans were watching the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The confusion and clarity lies within the concept of royalty in America and the fact that we seemingly reacted to that wedding like "heroes" we glean from pop culture.
The possibility that we can treat anyone as those heroes just because they can hit a 95 MPH fastball or a celebrity that gets arrested therefore we have to know about everything about them. That's a sad commentary isn't it, a common criminal is treated with admiration whilst men and women in uniform are risking life and limb in a war zone in a giant sandbox.
Legends are a dime a dozen. Weekly, it seems, we are introduced to a new legend in football, basketball or even competitive synchronized swimming. Don't get me wrong many legends live within the borders of our communities, if they didn't we wouldn't know about "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"? The legends that live among us generally aren't for us to remember fairies wearing boots, they usually are cautionary tales aimed to prove a point whilst leaving a lasting impression. Isn't that the point one might ask? Yes. Yes it is exactly the point whether it be that football star or the "Headless Horseman" a legend is something that educates, seriously.
Between the pages of our mind lies the latest legend and it is guaranteed that the next page will introduce us to the next. It's an interesting conundrum when you think that there is rarely an amalgamation of legend and royalty. What if there were a perfect storm and such a mixture really does exist? Interesting question me thinks, simple answer. The answer is... BB King. What Mr. King is can be described as a legendary the "King of the Blues" (see I told you there was one).
On Tuesday May 28th, 2013 I attended a show of BB King at the Mississippi Moon Bar in Dubuque, Iowa and I was amazed! As the people began to mull about during the intermission between Mr. King and the Sena Ehrhardt Band, who was incredible but I digress (there will be an article up soon), the energy level began to build and I can honestly tell you it was mind-blowing.
Having never seen Mr. King before I was unaware of his stage show so when I saw the size of his band I was amazed. For whatever reason I just assumed that Mr. King was a solo act, I really don't know why that is but man were they incredible. When the lights dimmed and the curtains opened the fans were exposed to the majesty that is his band. It was one of those moments that we have in our lives that we will not, nor can, we forget. I truly felt as if I was transported back into those "big bands" from an era gone by. I suppose the rationality for that would be the horn section, the keyboards and the men that play the strings, guitar and bass.
There may be another way to explain what I mean by the "big band" era would be look back to any movie, any television show (even commercials), and think back to the jazz bands, or even the funeral bands shown that is the feel of what I saw. Listening to the horns (trumpets, sax's, etc) was a wonderful thing for the simple reason our children are in the bands at their schools so I hear horns all of the time (obviously I hear and see bass and guitar too). Obviously the students aren't on par with this band but I would love to bottle whatever makes this band so freaking good. I would bottle it and give it to any musician and remind them how one should approach the craft.
I have the indelible responsibility to tell you in whatever terms I can come up with to explain the quality of these gentlemen and in doing so I have arrived at this explanation: WOW! What was so interesting was that if Mr. King wasn't in this band, I would gladly see them in concert.
The affirmation of how talented Mr. King is would be the fact that as the man entered the stage and then sat down the entire crowd (I do mean the ENTIRE crowd) gave Mr. King a standing ovation. It isn't uncommon for an artist to get an ovation following the completion of the act but before he began to perform was amazing. As Mr. King began to play I looked around the crowd and all of the smiles that befell them. There was a moment of realization that followed it being the fact that most of the crowd (that's a fair assumption) didn't know many of the songs he performed. I think for those people they were coming to be in the presence of the legend that is BB King.
It was an incredible experience just watching Mr. King perform but watching him interact with the crowd. Witty, funny and friendly would best describe the man and his on stage persona. Mr. King gave the show a "personal" feel, as if he was performing for the individuals in the crowd and at no time did he stray from it. As the band played on, Mr. King began to hand out some what appeared as jewelry to the crowd and he welcomed the fans to approach which was incredible of him to do. As Mr. King began to leave the stage it was obvious that the reverence that he and the crowd had for each other made every minute perfect.
As I write this, Mr. King is 86 years old (EIGHTY SIX), he is a diabetic and he is an unequivocal legend. At a time when many his age are retired, playing with grandchildren (great-grandchildren even) and they are enjoying their time remembering the happiest times of their lives, BB King is not. Yes Mr. King is doing all of those things with the exception being retired, and he is doing them still to a level that many musicians of lore have stopped doing by age 40. It really is a testament to the man not to the musician he is.
Legends aren't like the rest of the normalcy in which we live, instead legends attain their status because they aren't normal. Its true that legends should be elevated to that serene part of our minds not because they have done anything thing that we can't do, rather they choose to do those things. Its true that "legends" that live and breath were born and through their own gifts or skills they attain brought them to that level but the royalty among us haven't had to.
Before they were kings and queens those men and women had to be princes and princesses so with little exception to attain said titles one had to either be born royalty or marry into it. Royalty has an effect on the people that aren't royalty that can vary from reverence to loathing. In general terms that is exactly why the Founding Fathers decided it was important to NOT allow its citizenship "royal titles". Of course we still do live in a class-type system of sorts but only because we put people in a place of reverence for silly reasons such as being able to shoot a basket, make a hit song, get arrested and go to trial and for having "X" numbers of children.
When BB King came to the Mississippi Moon Bar on the 28th of May, 2013 I was expecting to see a man that came with qualifications and history that had me absolutely giddy with excitement (yes I said giddy). I knew that in the annals of music history this one man had such importance that he is legendary. I knew that in the arena of music history this man transcended every piece of hate and love that befalls a "royal". With that in mind its not difficult why BB King is a legend and music royalty all at the same time (okay his last name is King so royalty kind of fits doesn't it).
Regardless of all that seeing BB King was one of the greatest men I could have ever seen on stage. Bravo to Mr. King and his band!