Robert Cray has played on plenty of shows with B.B. King. And he never gets tired of the experience.
“It’s great; I get the opportunity to go talk with the King,” says Cray, 56, whose own career launched in the mid-’70s and peaked with the 1986 hit “Smoking Gun.” “It’s great to have the opportunity to chat with the nicest man on the planet.
“I’ll go backstage or go out to the bus, and he’s full of life, always has some funny jokes to tell. Normally, I catch him back there working on his computer or something. B.B. is way up to date and always has been.”
Cray, meanwhile, is staying active in his own right. He just released his 18th studio album, “This Time.” On first new studio set since 2005’s “Twenty,” Cray reunites with original bassist Richard Cousin as part of the latest incarnation of his Robert Cray Band.
“We had fun,” Cray says. “We didn’t have a concept or anything except, ‘Let’s get this thing rolling.’ It was kind of like the hippie days; we rented an old farmhouse that a friend of ours had in Santa Barbara County, with 20 acres and a cow in the backyard.
“We just went out there and rehearsed and brought in some new songs, then we went into the studio and had all this fresh energy. It was a great way to make an album.”
The Robert Cray Band performs with B.B. King at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 19) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $35 and $49.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.