Big Blues Bender Has Timeless Appeal

Sept. 25-28, Riviera Hotel-Casino

Otis Taylor and Brandon Niederauer

Otis Taylor and Brandon Niederauer (Photo by Erik Kabik)

It was as if the torch was being passed. Following 89-year-old legend B.B. King’s headlining set at the Big Blues Bender, 11-year-old guitarist Brandon Niederauer lit up the Versailles Theater stage during a late-night jam. The youngster might have been up past his bedtime, but there was nothing sleepy about his performance, as he traded licks with several top-notch musicians, holding his own with the big kids when given his chance to solo.

The inaugural blues festival provided a wealth of magical moments for fans, most of which came from out of town for the four-day event. Acts performed on four stages throughout the Riviera, with the music going from noon until the wee hours of the morning. Notable artists such as Guitar Shorty and Tab Benoit performed poolside during the day; a steady rotation of acts brought an Old Vegas vibe to the recently reopened Versailles Theater; and headliners such as King, Charlie Musselwhite and George Thorogood energized the spacious Royale Theater. It was enough to bring out the kid in all of us. ★★★★★

Photos by Erik Kabik/



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