'3 Kings' will rock into Victory North courtesy of Eric Culberson and his love of the blues

ajc.com

Credit: Richard Burkhart, Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart, Savannah Morning News

"It's helped me achieve a new level of bluesdom," Eric Culberson told me last week about preparing for "A Tribute to the 3 Kings of the Blues" on May 20 at Victory North.

Featuring the music of Albert King, B.B. King and Freddie King, the show was inspired by the “Blues Trilogy” tribute that Culberson produced several years ago at the Lucas Theatre.

That wildly successful show was just one of many career highlights for Culberson, who has achieved heights of bluesdom that many musicians would envy.

Culberson began hosting a weekly open jam night at Miss Billie’s in Savannah in 1989. The tradition continued even as the venues changed – Crossroads, J.J. Cagney’s, Mercury Lounge, Bayou Café and now McDonough’s Restaurant & Lounge. Culberson told me that more than 10 bands formed over the years because of those jam nights.

Culberson has also of course been a staple of the blues nights during the annual Savannah Jazz Festival for many years.

ajc.com

Credit: Adriana Iris Boatwright/For DoSavannah.com

Credit: Adriana Iris Boatwright/For DoSavannah.com

“I’ve been around for a long freakin’ time,” Culberson said. “I feel like a time traveler.”

Culberson told me that fans and friends have been asking for years when he will do another tribute show, but even before the pandemic, he had trouble pulling the logistics together. The concert at the Lucas cameoed a dozen or so local musicians who “had at least a big toe in the blues,” but Culberson has taken a different direction with the upcoming show.

Early on, Culberson called on drummer Tony Coleman, who toured with B.B. King and many others. Culberson has known Coleman since their work with King Snake Records in the 1990s.

Bob Wilson, who played keys for Freddie King and recorded “Nashville Skyline” with Bob Dylan, will also be joining the tribute at Victory North.

ajc.com

Credit: Richard Burkhart, Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart, Savannah Morning News

Three Atlanta-based musicians – Hani'el Mastriani-Levi on tenor sax, Justin Golding on baritone sax and Trent Patten on trumpet – will also be on stage, as will Savannah-based Kevin Rose on guitar, Jim Reed on drums and Eric Moore on bass.

Culberson has also lined up multiple sponsors for the concert and seems thrilled to be working with Victory North. “Everything has been falling together so perfectly this time,” Culberson said. “I can’t explain to you how right everything feels.”

Culberson said that he planned the setlist by pulling from the strongest work of the three artists, including B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone.”

“It’s going to be on fire, I’m telling you,” Culberson said. “If I was to see a tribute to the Three Kings, this is what I would expect.”

ajc.com

Credit: Courtesy of Tom Copi

Credit: Courtesy of Tom Copi

Advance ticket sales have been strong, so readers are strongly advised to reserve seats or general admission standing room tickets in advance. Tickets start at $25.

Culberson hopes that the concert will lead to even more ambitious programming down the road.

Bill Dawers writes the City Talk column for the Savannah Morning News. He can be reached via citytalksavannah@gmail.com and @billdawers on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: '3 Kings' will rock into Victory North courtesy of Eric Culberson and his love of the blues