OK, here's the deal. Blues great B.B. King is playing the Golden State Theatre on Tuesday night. There are still tickets left at press time. There shouldn't be any left by Tuesday.
Simply put, King is not only the greatest living practitioner of the blues right now, he may be one of the greatest ever (let the debate begin!) and easily the greatest blues guitarist that ever lived. King may only be No. 6 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, but he had a huge and undeniable influence on the five before him; Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Jeff Beck.
His influence on virtually every blues and rock guitarist that ever played cannot be overstated. Sure, Clapton was enamored of Elmore James and Richards of Chuck Berry, for example, but King's influence is near-universal, even if a particular guitarist doesn't follow his style scrupulously. It's in the feeling, the tone, the use of vibrato, the soul and the way King could make Lucille, his trusted and now-legendary guitar, "sing."
Sure, King is now 87 and is not as lively and spry as he was in his prime, but he still performs more than 100 concerts a year and puts on a great show with his band. And wouldn't you like to see Michael Jordan dunk a basketball or Muhammad Ali do the "Ali Shuffle" or Miles Davis blow his horn?
This is a rare opportunity to see a true legend (a word that gets thrown around mindlessly these days) do what he does best, sing and play the blues.
Need more convincing? King is in both the Blues and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has won 15 Grammy Awards, including a lifetime achievement award, is rated the No. 96 Greatest Singers of All Time, his "Live at the Regal" is not only one of the best blues albums recorded, it's one of the best in any genre (voted No. 141 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums), he's been awarded a Kennedy Center Honor and Presidential Medal of Freedom and is said to have performed in more than 15,000 concerts in his long and storied career.
His first No. 1 hit was the classic number, "Three O'Clock Blues" in 1956, a year in which he played an incredible 342 one-night stands, a record that would be extremely hard to top these days. His hits include the blues classic "The Thrill Is Gone," "Payin' The Cost To Be The Boss," "How Blue Can You Get," "Everyday I Have The Blues" and "Why I Sing The Blues."
Opening the show will be 12-year-old SoCal blues guitar sensation Ray Goren, who has guested with Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang and played the Doheny Blues Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, Monterey Bay Blues Festival and the Detroit Jazz Festival.
In addition to King, Golden State Theatre features the return Friday night of L.A.-based synth-rock band Fire in the Hamptons, which is fast becoming one of Monterey's favorite out-of-town bands thanks to the charismatic intensity of lead singer Zack Arnett, ringing Edge-like guitar work by Ian Dowd, the electro-synth rock of keyboardist Emvy Venti and the pounding backbeat of Aaron Bilyeau.
Plus FITH has a handful of tight, driving and melodic songs that are as comfortable on the radio/Spotify as they are on the dance floor: "Everything is Anything," "Humanimal." "Stargazer," "Children of the Sun" and "Crystalize," just to name a few.
Opening will be a similar act, Denver indie rock-pop band The Epilogues. Both bands will be making their Golden State Theatre debuts that night. Showtime is
8 p.m., cover is $10.
Oh, and the night is also a celebration of local concert promoter/musician Brian Conway's 40th birthday. Happy birthday, my man! You can skip the concert and just attend Brian's celebration at 10:30 or so for free, but why in the hell would you want to do that? These are two great bands, followed by a great after-party on the mezzanine with DJ Bad DJ.
Also at the GST: one-man punk-blues man Soda Gardocki is back in the area for another show, this time Saturday night, with Alex Ramirez opening.
And don't forget, the first of the new Alternative Vaudevilles, this one renamed Golden State Vaudeville, opens Thursday, Feb. 28, at the State. The theater's Scott Grover promises a faster, tighter more elaborate affair, something he calls "Alternative Vaudeville on steroids."
Also, check out Gypsy jazz favorites Beso Negro, with the Tomb Weavers and Sin Sisters Burlesque playing Saturday night at a "Mardi Gras Montage" at the American Legion Hall in Carmel. Also includes samba drummers, belly dancers, fire dancers, magicians and jesters. $20 door, info at
And a new soul/funk band The Funky Calamari Band plays Friday and Saturday night at Cibo in downtown Monterey. The band features members of bands such as BTA, Nu Horizon and Matt Masih & The Messengers, including guitarist Joseph Lucido and singer/keyboardist Steve Vasquez
Over at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz, one of my favorite pop-rock singer-songwriters of th '80s, Marshall Crenshaw, joins forces with one of my current favorite singer-songwriters, Dave Alvin and his band The Guilty Ones, Saturday night for one show at 9 p.m.
Crenshaw, whose '80s hits include "Someday, Someway," "Cynical Girl" and "There She Goes Again," has started an innovative new subscription service that supplies fans with a steady stream of new Crenshaw music via a series of exclusive three-song 10-inch, 45 RPM vinyl EPs on Addie-Ville Records, six of which the artist plans to release over a two-year period. In addition to the vinyl, subscribers also receive a download card for digital versions of the EP tracks. They are available from Crenshaw's website at marshallcrenshaw.com.
Each EP consists entirely of newly recorded, never-before-released material, including a new original Crenshaw composition, a classic cover tune and a reworking of an old favorite. His first EP is "I Don't See You Laughing Now."
Tickets are $20 advance, $25 day of show at moesalley.com.
More Santa Cruz: Scott Hamilton/Harrry Allen Quintet plays Saturday at rthe Kuumbwa Jazz Center; Robben Ford plays Friday night at the Rio Theater (7 p.m. show sold out); Chris Potter Quartet plays Monday night at Kuumbwa; and Big Sam's Funk Nation from New Orleans plays Sunday night at Moe's Alley.