His name synonymous with the blues, certainly the genre's leading ambassador for at least half a century, Indianola, Mississippi's Riley B. King—better known as B. B. from his days as Memphis disc jockey Beale Street Blues Boy—and his iconic guitar Lucille have won legions of friends and influenced generations of musicians. A prolific recording artist since scoring his first hit, "Three O'Clock Blues," back in 1951, King turned a succession of blues tunes—"Everyday I Have the Blues," "The Thrill Is Gone"—into household terms, while his lean, jazz-inflected guitar style inspired heavyweights from Eric Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Various infirmities, especially diabetes, have bedeviled King in recent decades, but at 85 he remains active, touring frequently in front of a tight band of ace musicians. With a lifetime of experiences, King is often more a storyteller than a musician in concert these days. But when he does crank up Lucille and sing the blues, the experience can still be enthralling, as it should be when you're in the presence of royalty.
Fri., Nov. 12, 8 p.m., 2010