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Eye to Eye with a Blues Legend – B.B. King Live

BB King Live at Sunset 2012

Nothing thrills me more than having any opportunity to listen to famous Blues players in the right environment.

Being a music lover in general, some of the biggest names in the business seem to escape me. Sorry, I hate large music concerts, I want to feel the music, I want to see the sweat rolling down the musician’s face. Some big names I know will always roll back into town and I always tell myself that if the setting is small enough I will get a ticket.

So when I was presented with the opportunity of seeing a legend, who might not be rolling back into town anytime soon again, and at the intimate Live at Sunset venue at Dolder in Zürich, I could not miss it.

If seeing the 87 year old B.B. King in a small, personal setting before he hangs up his Lucille is on your bucket list, Live at Sunset was absolutely the perfect place to see this blues legend.

Back in the Day

I’m not sure whether I have explained how much B.B. King has meant to me. When I grew up, I always had a love for Motown, and R&B — it had soul. While others listened to Devo or Billy Idol in the 80s, I was looking back to the 70s to Marvin Gaye, Smokie Robertson, Stevie Wonder and The Four Tops.

I found that the best place to score older music was at yard sales and flea markets. One day, my neighbor was selling a great big box of old tapes for all but a dollar, and seeing the Jackson 5 album and Lionel Richie right on top, I put the lid on the shoebox and ran home with my treasure. I dug out all the albums and laid them out on my bed. One of the albums I found at the bottom was “Electric with B.B. King”. B.B. King? Blues?

Funny enough, at this time girls entered the picture. Being a hopeless romantic, I would get shot down dozens of times trying to meet and date that amazing girl, along with some broken hearts and some deep cuts in the process. Being “dumped” by what I thought was the girl of my dreams and thinking life can’t go on, I slipped that dusty old B.B. King tape into my cassette player. It changed my life.

BB King Live at Sunset 2012


The Blues

BB King Live at Sunset 2012B.B. King knew how I felt, the pain that wailed through his guitar Lucille made me understand that the pain I was feeling wasn’t anything new, and really it’s supposed to hurt. The Blues were honest, and the way Lucille sang as B.B.’s fingers walked across her strings cut me to the pit of my heart and soul. Listening to the Blues has eased my heart every time it’s been crushed.

B.B. King’s music has truly shown me the roots of all music we have today. You also opened up a whole new group of Blues players for me: Robert Johnson, Howlin Wolf, Skip James, Billie Holiday, Muddy Waters, Robert Cray, John Lee Hooker, and of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan, god rest his soul. There is no way to enjoy any of these players in a huge stadium. The Blues, like my story, is personal and meant to be shared between friends.

Live at Sunset

BB King Live at Sunset 2012In one of the most amazing corners of Zurich, at a small open air concert called “Dolder, live at Sunset”. Moons and planets were alining the music gods for me, my Blues legend was playing. Sun setting against a beautiful forest backdrop in a small, 1000 seat setting. The atmosphere inside the amphitheater so quaint, the artist seems like a kindergarten teacher at story time, so close to the crowd B.B. was, you could see his dental work!

Absolutely no stress getting to the event with the No. 6 tram towards the zoo. A special “Live at Sunset” bus was waiting to deliver me right to the ticket doors. I walked in surrounded by bamboo and umbrellas, with a cold beer and unbelievable sushi in my hands, moments before I was to be swooned by a legend.

Helping a Legend

Everyone was chilled and friendly. In fact, while waiting for the concert to begin, two ladies, obviously from the southern United States, asked me to help them find their seat. As it turns out, when the concert started, B.B. King looked out and announced that they were his daughters.

You know, for all the help B.B. King gave me with break-ups, it was the least I could do. As the night went on and the stars started to twinkle brighter than the chrome shine off the drum set, B.B. King and his band mesmerized the crowd.

With Lucille tightly pressed against his chest, Mr. King let his guitar sing to the audience with his signature sound, re-opening love wounds of the past. The atmosphere at this event is so perfect for Blues singers or any musical artists.

BB King Live at Sunset 2012

The next thing I knew, the concert was over. As I was leaving and saying good-bye to one of my musical heros, I noticed that my right ankle was sore and tender. 

My only conclusion is 3 hours of continuous toe tapping at an amazing concert, to an amazing musical legend in an amazing setting. Thanks to this concert, one big check mark on my bucket list!

Paul Hilliard

Paul is the quintessential Canadian, but love plucked him from his cushy biker's nest and has landed him in the crazy 9 to 5 world of Switzerland. As "Grizzly", he loves to hit the Swiss Alps and mark his territory, just as long as he doesn't get shot!

1 comment

  • Hi Paul,
    NS has a new reporter! Welcome.
    When I lived in New Zealand I was lucky enough to see “The King of the Blues” live five times! All in 1989, I met him and Lucille once also! I am a huge fan.
    Not sure what this has to do with CH though? I guess it’s the fact you saw him here! (Dimitri will say). I was at The Bosses concert last week I should have written a post about that ;-)

Paul Hilliard

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