The world’s greatest blues artist in the Capital Region’s most intimate concert venue. It doesn’t get any better that that. The College of Saint Rose will proudly celebrate the fifth anniversary of its acclaimed Massry Center for the Arts with an exclusive benefit performance by the legendary B.B. King. The sold-out black-tie gala will take place Sunday, April 14, in the Kathleen McManus Picotte Recital Hall, Massry Center for the Arts, on the Saint Rose campus. Co-chairing the gala planning committee are Julie Massry Knox and Murray C. Massry, with Tri-City Rentals the gala’s presenting sponsor.
For six decades, there has been only one King of the Blues: Riley B. King, affectionately known as B.B. King. Since King started recording in the late 1940s, he has released more than 60 albums, many of them considered blues classics. Over the years, King has developed one of the world’s most readily identified guitar styles. He borrowed from Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker and others, integrating his precise vocal-like string bends and his left hand vibrato, both of which have become indispensable components of a rock guitarist’s vocabulary. His economy, his every-note-counts phrasing, has been a model for thousands of players such as Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Rush, Johnny Winter and Albert King.
King has mixed traditional blues, jazz, swing, mainstream pop and jump into a unique sound. His singing is richly melodic, both vocally and in the “singing” that comes from Lucille, the name he has given to each of his guitars since the mid-1950s. In King’s words, “When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille. I’m trying to get people to see that we are our brother’s keeper, I still work on it. Red, white, black, brown, yellow, rich, poor, we all have the blues.”
The Massry Center for the Arts opened in 2008 and features the 400-seat Kathleen McManus Picotte Recital Hall, Esther Massry Art Gallery, choral and instrument rehearsal rooms, teaching studios, piano labs and classrooms, and played host to dozens of musical legends in it’s short lifespan. The $14 million, 46,000 square-foot gem is certified LEED Gold, ranking it among the Capital Region’s most energy-efficient and Earth-friendly buildings.