For over half a century, B.B. King and B.B. King’s Band defined the blues to the world, averaging over 250 sold out concerts per year, with classics like “The Thrill Is Gone,” “Every Day I Have The Blues,” “How Blues Can You Get,” and “Why I Sing The Blues”. Combining over 100 years of musical talent, this is your chance to experience and celebrate these incredible legends…LIVE ON STAGE!
James “Boogaloo” Bolden (Trumpet)
Born in Houston, TX, James Bolden began his musical training under the guidance of Edmund C. Broussard. Bolden later seized the opportunity to study classical trumpet under Houston Symphony Trumpeter Richard Schafer. James went on to play with local union bands that performed with a wide array of artists such as Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, Temptations, Supremes, Spinners, and James Brown. Bolden eventually was given the opportunity to join the Duke Ellington Orchestra where he thrived for years. Bolden later joined the band of B.B. King and became bandleader during a stint of over 35 years. James Bolden now continues his association with B.B. King by joining B.B. King’s Band as bandleader.
Walter King (Saxophone)
Mr Walter King, nephew to Mr. BB King Performed for over 30 years with BB King Walter Riley King: Saxophonist, Band Director & Musical Director to BB King reveals his secrets of the road. It’s important to learn from your boss and the other musicians – that’s how I did it. I had just played in the band as a sideman for only 2 months. Then one day, I was told “the band is yours”. I was already with it, and ready to go.
My first night on stage I ran from one side of the stage to the other side, picking up notes, glasses of water – back and forth for at least 40 minutes. Then BB (King) calls me over and asks me “How do you like your job? “I said “OK!” I realized then it was not all about music. There was more to the job than just music.
For a total of 10 years I was a band director, and some of my fondest memories are from this time. One such memory was during the Football Season. Like most bands, we always played the star spangled banner before the game. This was the 1st home game of the season, and as the music started playing, I realized that it just didn’t have the feeling, the passion, that I thought it should have. So, I stopped the band. I said to them: “you need a vision – a visual reference, to play this piece”. “Do you know how many brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, fathers, mothers and friends have given their lives so that you could play this song? Let’s try this again, thinking of all those who have sacrificed for us, while we play – majestic, and wonderfully warm music with feeling. That’s what it’s all about.“ The band had never played the national anthem like they played it that night. Every time after that, it was easy for them, as they had a vision for the music.
Russell Jackson (Bass)
Starting his 41-year career in 1974, Russell Jackson moved to Chicago in 1976 and gained his blues stripes working with Otis Clay, Buddy Guy, Bobby Rush, and others like Charlie Musselwhite and WIllie Nelson. For 8 years, Russell toured exclusively with B.B. King as his bass guitarist. Jackson was the first artist to put slap bass on a live blues recording, (Live at Old Miss 1979). During the 1990’s, he recorded with Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne on his Juno Award winning CD. In 1992, the Russell Jackson Band debuted and Jackson released three CD’s of his own material. Present day, Russell is the Music Director for the New Generations of the Blues European Tours, formerly known as The Chicago Blues Festival. Jackson was welcomed into the B.B. King’s Blues Band because of his extraordinary talent.
Herman Jackson (Drums)
Herman Jackson is a native of Baton Rouge, LA. This master percussionist honed his skill and is a Graduate of Southern University with a degree in Jazz Studies in Baton Rouge, LA… And at the Berkley School of Music, Boston, with noted jazz great, Alan Dawson. Jackson’s world tours include performances in Ireland, Greenland, and Ivory Coast. Spain, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and Royal Festival Hall in London, as well as Carnegie Hall were just a few of many. Jackson was without a doubt influenced by the stellar lineup of artists with whom he toured and performed. The lineup of those artists includes Al Green, Ellis Marsalis, Nancy Wilson, and Blues Icon B.B. King. Jackson also played himself as a drummer in the HBO series Treme. Herman currently serves as Assistant Jazz Band Director at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, and heads the percussion department.
Eric Demmer (Saxophone)
“Hear what you feel, play what you hear.” At the age of 10, Eric received his first saxophone, so began the journey of a natural-born musician playing anywhere at any time with anyone. One night, Eric was invited to perform onstage with the legendary Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown at a Houston club known as “Billy Blues.” On that night, Eric joined Gate’s band and traveled all over the world for the next 12 years utnil Gate’s death in 2005. The journey with Gate included performing as the opening act for Eric Clapton’s “From the Cradle Tour.” This gave Eric the opportunity to perform with many well-known and respected musicians, ie. Carlos Santana, George Duke, Joe Sample, David Sanborn, and B.B. King. Buddy Guy, the Allman Brothers, and Dr. John were among many others.
Wilbert Crosby (Guitar and Vocals)
Acclaimed guitar virtuoso with a soulful bluesy sound, mesmerizing audiences nationally and internationally for over 30 years. Extensive experience in the music industry built through working with legendary artist in a variety of capacities including stage performance, producing, recording sessions and singing background vocals as well as composing and arranging songs that span the genre of Blues, Gospel, Jazz and Soul. Great musical consciousness that drives a deep commitment to leave a legacy of musical excellence through performance and educating teenage musicians.
Lamar Boulet (Trumpet)
Lamar was raised in Lafayette, LA, but got his start in the music business in New Orleans. It was there he was able to study and work with some of the legends in New Orleans such as Ellis Marsalis, his first teacher in the study of jazz. As an undergraduate, he studied with the incomparable Vince DiMartino at the University of Kentucky before receiving his masters degree at the University of Miami. Lamar later moved to Orlando and worked at Disney as a composer/arranger, musician. Carnival Cruise Lines hired him as Musical Director and he spent 4 years in charge of musicians and talent. He also toured with Grammy Award winning Latin artist, Tito Nieves. Lamar now lives in Houston, TX, where he freelances and teachers. Lamar is honored to be a new member of B.B. King’s Blues Band.
Darrell Lavigne (Keyboards)
Darrell Lavigne has been performing on stages around the world, most notably New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Rotterdam JVC Jazz Festival- Netherlands, and Berlin Jazz Festival- Germany. Lavigne began his musical life at age 10, first on guitar then trumpet. It wasn’t until his senior year that he decided piano would be his instrument of choice. “I wanted to explore harmony and the colors of music. Piano represented that for me.” Darrell’s influences came for the usual jazz sources as Monk, Bud Powell, Ahmad Jamal, Hancock, and Corea. Charlie Parker, Coltrane, and Miles Davis rounded out the crew. Early musical exposure in addition to the mentoring by Ellis Marsalis and Edward “Kidd” Jordan helped Lavigne become one of the most sought-after pianists around. Darrell has gone on to record two albums with then Columbia Jazz Artist, Kent Jordan, write for one (Night Aire) and produce another (Out of This World). Over the years, Darrell has performed with artists Kirk Whalum, Marion Meadows, George Duke, Hubert/Ronnie Laws, and Everette Harp to name a few. Though he’s respected as a pianist/keyboardist, he continues to produce and write for a number of artists. Discography: Blue Orleans (Fertile Crescent, 2000); Kidd Jordan/IAQ-Kidd Stuff (Danjor); Michael Ward-After The Kiss (Sweet Music Records, 2006).