It was the kind of crowd you’d never expect to go silent. Both fans and tourists were filling tables as far as the eye could see, slinging noisy conversations over mixed drinks, popcorn shrimp, and ice cream sundaes. B.B. King’s, through no fault of the legend himself, felt like some big luxury liner, cruising through Times Square’s bath of neon lights with the dinner-rush crowd in tow. We immediately feared for their focus, cursing the 42nd street vibe like most locals do. But everything changed when Tal Wilkenfeld walked onstage.
After their boisterous applause had bubbled up from below, the audience went pin-drop silent and even leaned in close as she started to play. And there’s a reason for that – Tal is a total badass. The prodigy bass guitarist, who has played for legends like Jeff Beck, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock, has been tearing it up for years. Suffice it to say you have to be a certain kind of brilliant when you play a guest show with the Allman Brothers Band at just 20 years old. Now at 29, she’s better than ever, and was backed by a full band on Sunday.
Tal smiled warmly as her curls spilled over her turquoise bass, radiating a love for music that made her stage presence even more alluring. She jammed steadily through a spacious set, with songs like “Counterfeit” evoking another side of the city entirely. As she played, you could almost feel the smoky summer blues and picture the old village buildings, taking us far from the glitter and gift shops of our current locale. Tal’s vocals were deep, mystic, and pure rock and roll, and her nimble fingers moved with the surety of someone who’d been playing for decades. It’s no wonder why all the greats see something special in her.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley