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In homage to the King

With heavy hearts we learned of B.B. King’s death Thursday in Las Vegas. King was 89, but shared a standing joke that he didn’t exactly know how old he was. I was fortunate enough to see the legend at Tipitina’s Jan. 20, 2013, with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band opening. There may be no better way to remember B.B. King than a gallery of photos taken that night, when he was onstage, where he best loved to be. Enjoy the full album here. [http://jalbum.net/a/1621418].

King himself requested the Tipitina’s venue. And while his legendary stature garnered legendary prices, you wouldn’t have known it by the nearly sold-out room. To see the legend in a small venue was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

B.B. King’s blues band appropriated the stage first to play a few instrumentals highlighting each of their instruments. King took to the stage at the end of the second song and tossed a few picks to the audience before taking his seat, center stage. After finishing the tune at hand, he introduced the band, taking some silly jabs at them in the process.

King played with such passion that one couldn’t help getting lost in his performance. Each note he played showed on his face; his guitar truly was an extension of his soul. The blues were his essence and you knew he had lived every moment of what he played.

King’s set that night included trademark masterpieces “The Thrill is Gone” and “Someone Really Loves You,” as well as a great audience participation cover of “You Are My Sunshine.”

The evening concluded with a long blues session that seemed to abruptly end, but the audience didn’t really seem to mind. King and his band were solid, and the crowd beyond grateful for the performance they had been given.

Steven Hatley is a New Orleans-based photographer. You can find more of his photography here.