Lucky Peterson, born Judge Kenneth Peterson in Buffalo, New York in 1964, has shared the stage with many of the blues’ most notorious names. His story begins with a performance he doesn’t remember at the famed The Governor’s Inn, a venue his father, James Peterson, owned. A time and place he’ll never forget.
“My father told me a story about a show he had one time. At about 3 in the morning after the club closed, some of the brothers stayed over until about 5 o’clock that morning. Everybody is sleeping and all of sudden the alarm starts going off. Dad comes running down the stairs to find out what’s going on only to find me trying to play the organ. That’s when dad started teaching me how to play. I was 3 years old.”
When asked which iconic musician he’s played with, he says there’s too many to name over the decades. After a brief pause, he does, however, answer who plays blues the best: “Me.”
A fitting response when you span his career, but that’s not to say the man isn’t without humility. He adds the following to his short list of who’s the best: “My Father, God, Albert King, Junior Wells, B. B. King, Lonnie Smith and Buddy Guy.”
He breezed through the list effortlessly but, when you’ve rubbed guitars with as many legends as he has, leaving someone off of your thank you list is akin too telling granny, “Thanks but, no thanks. I got my fill of cookies from my other grandma.” He’s got his core list down pat.
At an early age Peterson made an immediate impression nationally making an appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “What’s My Line?” where millions of people watched him perform his first single “1-2-3-4.” A cover version of “Please, Please, Please” by James Brown and recorded by the legendary Willie Dixon, whom took Peterson under his wing after hearing him play at his father’s venue when he was 3.
“He took me out to Chicago, he had a nice studio. He’d tell me he wanted me to play the organ while he recorded, so I would do that then go back outside and play. He’d call me back in again after a while and we’d do it all over again.”
But as the case with many youngsters hitting it big, his fame came with a downside that ended with a stint in rehab and, arguably, to his greatest album to date. The aptly titled “You Can Always Turn Around”, nabbing the Grand Prix du Disque Best Blues Album of 2010 and a nomination for the Blues Music Award’s Best Acoustic Blues Album award.
Since the success of that album, Peterson has been riding high, recording and touring. His latest album, “Live At The 55 Arts Club Berlin”, is due for release this February and features musicians Shawn Kellerman (guitar), Timothy Lee Waites (Bass), Raul Valdez (drums) and his wife, the vocally vivacious Tamara Peterson who also penned a number of songs on the new album.
Peterson has much experience with his current lineup, touring with the same group. When asked what makes the lineup exciting live he says, “The chemistry is wonderful. I’ve been with these guys for a long time. We don’t have a list of songs we play. I just call them out as I feel them on stage and we all just pick it up and go.”
The blues man knows what he wants, when he wants it and how to deliver it.
Lucky Peterson perform live this Saturday, January 19, at the Holland Performing Arts Scott Recital Hall at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $30 - $90 and can be purchased at www.ticketomaha.com/productions/Memphis/9123/.