In case you weren’t quite up for the soothing Anti-Road Rage sounds of the New York Philharmonic tonight, here’s a little something that should put a smile back on your face – the inimitable Bobby Blue Bland, in concert at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on January 12, 1977 – recorded and preserved for posterity by the venerable KSAN-FM in San Francisco and curated by The Terry Hammer Archives, who did a magnificent job taking care of these priceless gems.
Bobby Bland was a regular up and down the West Coast from the late 1960s through the 1970s, performing concerts and clubs and just about anywhere his message did the most good. He was a consummate musician and his vocal style was unique and unmistakable.
Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B. He was described as “among the great storytellers of blues and soul music… [who] created tempestuous arias of love, betrayal and resignation, set against roiling, dramatic orchestrations, and left the listener drained but awed.” He was sometimes referred to as the “Lion of the Blues” and as the “Sinatra of the Blues”. His music was also influenced by Nat King Cole.
Bland was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2012. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described him as “second in stature only to B.B. King as a product of Memphis’s Beale Street blues scene”.
If you haven’t heard him, or are familiar with the many records in his vast catalog, but missed hearing him in concert – check this one out. He was a great live act, and his backup band, The Mellow Fellows kicked ass nightly.
Say no more – crank it up and dive in, head first.
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