By Lisa Morgan –

BB King 101:  “When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille” says the legend.  Lucille is the name BB King christened his guitar with when, in 1949, while playing at a dance hall in Arkansas, a barrel half-filled with kerosene, lit to warm up the place, was knocked over causing the hall to burst into flames.  King ran back into the burning building to retrieve his $30 Gibson guitar. Two people died in that fire started by two men fighting over a woman named Lucille.  King wrote the infamous song “Lucille” and named that first guitar and every guitar since after the woman at the center of that near-fatal experience as a reminder to never again do something as stupid as run into a burning building or fight over women.

This “King of Blues” was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925.  From the very beginning, it seems a serendipitous providence that King would become the monarch of the Blues genre.  Born in a small cabin on a cotton plantation outside of Berclair, Mississippi, his father abandoned the family when he was 4 years old.  His mother married another man, but was too poor to raise her son.  As revealed by the insightful documentary, “The Life of Riley”, King was raised by his maternal grandmother but lived alone in a shack.  King worked behind a plow for four years from the age of nine to pay off his dead mother’s and grandmother’s debts, talking to the rabbits who were his only friends.

Finding music, King initially worked at WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, gaining the nickname Beale Street Blues Boy, later shortened to Blues Boy and ultimately to “B.B.”   It was there that he first met T-Bone Walker. “Once I’d heard him for the first time, I knew I’d have to have [an electric guitar] myself…I HAD to have one, short of stealing!” he said.  He is now known as one of the top 10 guitarists of all time.  Also famous for his rigorous touring schedule of 250-300 shows a year until his 70s, King has been performing up to 100 shows a year on his farewell tour initiated in 2006.  B.B. King’s sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato has influenced virtually every electric guitarist that has followed.

Rhythm, Wine and Blues Festival:  With much gratitude owed to the Empire Polo Club owner, Alex Haagen III and family, Coachella Valley residents will have opportunity to see and hear this legendary, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer in their own back yard Saturday, February 23rd. This weekend’s Rhythm, Wine and Brews Festival will be their first independent music event with a major headliner. Alex Haagen IV, who is producing the event said, “I’ve never seen B.B. King live and I just thought it would be something special. Since we are just starting, I wanted to have something that made it legitimate and give everybody an opportunity to come and enjoy a beautiful day with us.”

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Live music will create a backdrop of rhythm and blues as guests enjoy an afternoon of wine and beer tasting at the beautiful Empire Polo Club.  The selection of wines available to taste has been expanded to include a variety of brands from wineries located in various regions of California. New to the Festival this year is the addition of beer tasting. Samples of hand-crafted beer from a variety of regional breweries will be featured in the tasting garden.

This will be a historical day of soul changing music delivered by an artist at the sunset of a career furrowed by hardships overcome by the love and passion for an art that not only helped him to survive but to thrive and leave an indelible mark on the world in which we live.  We may never again have an opportunity to enjoy this national treasure in person.

Festival Schedule:

2:00 PM Gates Open
2:00-6:00 PM Beer & Wine Tasting

Wine Stage
2:30-4:00 PM Alex A & the Fermented
4:30-6:00 PM Penny Unniversity

Main Stage
6:30-8:00 PM Paul Thorn
8:30-10:00 PM B.B. King

There will be a live auction on the Main Stage around 8:00 PM. We will be auctioning several guitars to benefit the Casey Lee Ball Foundation.

Tickets: Tickets to the Rhythm, Wine and Brews Fest can be purchased online or at the gate the day of the Festival. Children under the age of 12 are free. Ticket holders must show ID at the Festival and be 21 years of age or older to taste beer and wine.

                General Admission $75 includes: 7 total tastings, general admission access to the show, free      parking, souvenir tasting glass

                VIP Admission $175.00 includes: 7 tastings, reserved seating w/custom logo captain’s chair to    take home, free parking, VIP entrance to event, souvenir tasting glass, free RWB poster

Additional tasting tickets can be purchased once inside of the Festival. There will be food and beverage service onsite throughout the event. The event will take place rain or shine. There are no refunds on ticket purchases.