If you want to play in B.B. King's band, you better be able to keep time. Or else, you might get cut. And not in a friendly, "You're laid off," kind-of-way, either.
"C'mon guys, you know I'm from Mississippi. I carry a blade," he turned around and teased his drummer and bassist at Tuesday night's show. Not that the pair were at all out of step — the four-piece horn ensemble and killer rhythm section were as tight as the King of the Blues' backing band ought to be. B.B. identified the trumpeter as his band leader, but with his "take-it-around-one-more-time" hand motions and commanding voice, King was undoubtedly in charge.
Weaving from classics like "The Thrill Is Gone" into drawn out stories (mostly about the ways of women) over a low-key groove, King showed that he's every bit the entertainer he ever was, if not more so. When the appreciative Hilton Head audience (mostly seated but peppered with random drunks) yelled out, he teased and ridiculed them back, but always with a smile. Seated throughout the evening, he'd throw his head back and guffaw at all of his own jokes, then blaze into a roaring blues lick on Lucille.
B.B. King's about the only man alive who could follow up a rocking Buddy Guy show and still come out on top. Just as he did at ChazzFest in 2006, Guy wandered out into the crowd, singling out ladies to sing to, then ripping away on his guitar. He showed off his versatile chops, mimicking the signature sounds of John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. "You're the best though!" yelled one audience member from the crowd.
After Guy's show, King sauntered out onto stage in a big, shiny jacket, high-fiving his band before finding his chair. With his animated two-hour-and-change performance, King more than earned his supper. "I might be 83," said King, "But I ain't dead."