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B.B. King rules

December 01, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

o Click here to view or purchase more photos from B.B. King's appearance in Hagerstown.

HAGERSTOWN -- An icon. A pioneer in the blues. A significant influence on rock 'n' roll. An all-around good time.

Those were some of the ways blues legend B.B. King was described by his fans Monday night as the 83-year-old guitarist entertained a nearly sellout crowd at The Maryland Theatre.

It was as if a king indeed had come.

King's eight-piece band played a couple long jams before King appeared and fans were relishing the moment of seeing the performer.

Then King walked onstage, introduced as "the one and only king of blues."

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen," said King, decked out in a black jacket, white shirt and black bow tie.

"I said good evening ladies and gentlemen," King said, the roar of the crowd growing.

"Thank you," King replied.

Though King sat during his performance and talked about physical ailments like a bad back and that he "can't remember anything," he played with his typical fervor, growling out low notes yet hitting soft highs.

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King was personable with the crowd, talking about how he began recording in 1949. He told other men in the crowd who are starting to get on in years to never stop living.

"The older we get, the prettier they get," King said.

Jay Hamilton, who came to see the show with his wife, Shelley, said he plays drums and has always wanted to see King.

"He's influenced everyone from the (Rolling) Stones to everyone on down the line," said Hamilton, of Martinsburg, W.Va.

Danny Whitfield, who lives in Little Orleans outside Hagerstown, said he has seen King about four times in recent years at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., and enjoys how King mixes his performance with storytelling.

"It's always a fun time," Whitfield said.

Chris and Kerri Litz of Baltimore said they have enjoyed the Western Maryland Blues Fest in Hagerstown and Kerri Litz said it was important for them to see King, since he was one of the blues pioneers.

"This is one of the last ones," Kerri Litz said.

Guitarist Joel Zoss, who performed solo as a warm-up act, realized what he was up against.

"I'm just the hors d'oeuvres here. The meat and potatoes are coming," Zoss told the crowd.

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