May 8, 2008

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He’s got the nice guy blues
Brooks Young Band opens for B.B. King (again)
By Brian Early bearly@hippopress.com

When the Brooks Young Band opens for B.B. King next Saturday, it will be the band’s second time.

The first time Brooks Young met B.B. King was on King’s tour bus in 2001. King played a show at what used to be Singer Park, where Merchantsauto.com Stadium is now. Young was waiting in line for the bathroom when an old friend pulled him backstage and onto the bus.

“He’s a very large man,” Young recalls of King. “He shook my hand and it disappeared.”

They talked about music. “He asks a lot of questions,” Young said. “He likes to get to know you.”

King, who is 82 and still touring heavily, will play at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Saturday, May 17.

Young and his band have also opened for Room Full of Blues and Luther “Guitar” Johnson. If you haven’t guessed, the Brooks Young Band plays the blues. But at 26, Young is writing and recording mostly originals and making a name for himself along the way.

“Every month that goes by, we’re getting bigger and bigger,” Young said. “We’re going to see how far this takes us.”

The band tours often, playing New York City shows frequently, even playing at Kenny’s Castaways in the City, which has housed Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Blondie over the years. Making a name for himself here has made it easier for Young book elsewhere, to the point where the band no longer has to book its own shows, a chore few musicians enjoy.

Young started playing acoustic guitar in his pre-teen years, moving over to the electric as he got older and was influenced by his grandfather, who had played alongside the late legendary country guitarist Chet Atkins. By his late teens, he was starting his blues career playing alongside Jerry “The Reverend” Paquette of the Kan-Tu Blues Band in New Hampshire. By the time he was 24, he was opening up for B.B. King, which was also at the Capitol Center.

The band has produced only an eight-song album along with a live DVD from a New York City performance, but they’re recording new material now, due out in the fall or early winter. One of the songs available on the band’s Myspace page (www.myspace.com/brooksyoungband) is “Wasting My Life,” which has nearly 8,800 plays. Young recorded that with a guitar that used to belong to Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, who gave the guitar to his guitar tech, whom Young also knows.

Young’s approach is to be nice to everyone he meets, because he never knows when he’ll run into that person again. During a phone interview, Young comes across as a person who wouldn’t even know how to be mean to another person. It’s about being nice and being at the right place at the right time, getting the lucky breaks and working hard to get ahead.

And being at the right place at the right time can even happen at the Radisson in Manchester. Young needed to get some ice for his room. When he walked out, Ben Folds, who played a show that night at the Verizon Wireless Arena, walked out of his room across the hall. He needed ice too.

“I’m looking for ice with Ben Folds,” Young said. “That was a cool moment. My keyboardist was jealous.”


Get the blues
Brooks Young Band opens for B.B. King
Where: Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord.
When: Saturday, May 17. Brooks Young plays from 6 to 8 p.m. B.B. King plays at 8 p.m. Ticket packages are available for the shows together or seperate.
Tickets: 225-1111 or www.ccanh.com.