Marcus King: The Man's Got Soul

 
 

via The 11th Hour

Where you at right now?
I’m in New York City. I’m in town meeting with some folks and we’re headed to Indianapolis tomorrow.

Marcus, first off, we are loving this new album.  I think I spend at least a few hours each day walking around trying to sing “Rita is Gone.” Absolutely great!
Thank you so much, man. I sure appreciate that.

Who is Rita?
Well, she’s sort of a combination of all the problems I had going on at the time. It was one of those things where I had the verses written, but I couldn’t figure out the name I was going to use.  And there was this TV show I was into that had a character in it named Rita, and she’d just died as I was writing this.  I was thinking about how bad that sucked, so I named her Rita.

What TV show?
Dexter. So that’s the name!

I love the horns on that track. Do you travel with horns? Who was playing horns there?
Yes, sir.  We have a six piece band right now – a two piece horn section and organ, drums, bass, and guitar.

That would be a Hammond B3 organ, right?
Oh yes.

You know you’ve got a good band when you look behind you and see a horn section and a Hammond in it, right?
Ha! But man, I think it’s more the Indian than it is the Arrow.

Did you watch the Grammys last night?  Anyone you were rooting for in particular?
I didn’t get a chance to watch it all.  I saw Beyonce’s performance, which was pretty intense. We had some good friends in The Record Company who got nominated. We were rootin’ for them.

Tell me about when you first started playing music?
I was about two or three years old when I had my first memories of it, on my great grandfather’s front porch.   He played the fiddle. My grandfather sang and played guitar, and fiddle as well. Both my uncles played bass, and my father played guitar and sang. All my aunts sang.  So I was around that a lot when I was young. That slowed down as I got older, but my fondest memories are being able to watch my family express their joy through that music.  Even if they were pissed off about something, or at each other, they could play music and forget all about it.

And in 2014 Warren Haynes came into your life. How did that happen?
Warren grew up in Asheville, North Carolina and I grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. They aren’t too far apart.  I was able to meet him through some mutual friends in the area that I was writing with and playing with. After I did the first record, they wanted to introduce my music to him.  And I was blessed that he really dug it and he kind of took us under his wing and has really helped us out a lot.

Warren produced this album. What were his suggestions coming in?
Well, to be honest, all of us were pretty green when it came to studio recording at that point. So we were naturally a little freaked out by this. But when we got there, we realized that Warren and I had very similar ideas about how we wanted to approach it. We were going for the same thing with the sound, and the recording process, as far as recording everything live. I think that really helped. Plus he's just fun to work with. He's one of my heroes, but he's also just an incredible person.

How familiar are you with Macon music history? I know Warren is a student of it.
Oh, well, I doubt I know as much as he does, but it’s certainly something I’m aware of, and something we talked about many times.  I got to play one of Duane’s guitars when I was there at the Big House, and that was incredible. His whole passion and his tenacity behind what he did is something I really aspire to. Not just as a musician, but as a businessman. He was one of the first musicians I gravitated towards.

Who were some of the other people you gravitated towards?
Stevie Ray Vaughn was really it early on. Hendrix, Albert King, and BB and Freddie. But a big thing for me was Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.

Well, you have that soul in your voice.
James Brown. All those cats were really big influences on me.  I never thought I was going to be a singer.  I just wanted to play. Everything I wrote was instrumental early on. Then I had a friend of mine pass away in a car accident when I was 13, and it really tore me up, man.  Through a song I wrote for her, I realized I wasn’t able to express myself anymore through just instrumentation.  That’s the day I started singing.

I feel like you’re one of those people who’s on the verge of stardom – like, next year, when we try to get an interview, it’s gonna be harder!  What does that feel like? I know you probably don’t think about it, but I know you have to look out at these audiences and think, “Man this is working,” right?
Well, you know, the more people we can try to bring together with our music and what we write – the biggest thing for us is to try to invoke expression in others.  We want folks to express their emotions.  Because this world has some of its biggest problems from folks who can’t express themselves. If we can bring that to some of our live shows, and keep our own sanity, and keep the lights on at our house, we’ll be doing alright in my book.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Macon, Marcus.
Thank you, bud. I hope to see y’all soon.

Gramercy Theatre Review

 
 

via MusicExistence.com

The Marcus King Band have exploded over the course of the last year bringing their southern fried brand of blues and psychedelia inspired rock n’ roll to the jam band masses always on the lookout for the next Widespread Panic or Gov’t Mule.

Lead by 20-year-old phenom Marcus King, it would seem almost an obvious decision for the band to lean heavily on King’s aureate guitar playing on their studio recordings as well as up on the lighted stage.

King, whose family musical legacy can be traced back generations, is a sublime talent whose could easily turn it up to eleven, play over the top of the rest of the band and wow audiences with solo after solo, night after night.

Despite being in the pubescent phase of his professional career King is not only much wiser than that, the guitar prodigy actually has much loftier goals that go well beyond simply proving he belongs in the same conversation with guitar gods such as Joe Bonamassa and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Should you question those bold expectations I’m guessing not only have you never seen King perform live, it’s a safe to assume that you simply don’t have an inkling as to what makes King tick, the pressure he puts on himself to elevate his performance every night or the type of fire that burns deep inside this young man.

The Marcus King Band comprised of King, Justin Johnson (trumpet), Dean Mitchell (saxophone), Jack Ryan (drums), Matthew Jennings (keys) and Stephen Campbell (bass) operate as more of an improvisational juggernaut versus a one-man axe wielding show backed by a few nameless musical ghouls.

King masterfully creates space and opens up doors for the other musician he shares the stage with to step into, allowing each of them to not only find their place but to have their individual resplendent talents shine as much as his own.

This alignment in turn allows the Marcus King Band to deliver more replete performances in a live setting that both ebb and flow in terms of pace and musical diversity. Consequently, the band has already begun to make a name for themselves here in the US and across the pond as a live performance steamroller that rewards their fan base by offering up distinctly divergent sets night in and night out.

Recently the Marcus King Band took to a sold out Gramercy Theatre Stage in New York City opening for Grammy winner Eric Krasno of Lettuce and Soulive fame.  Instead of running through a play-by-play of the songs The Marcus King Band unleashed on the Gotham masses, a more apt synopsis of the band’s performance would be better surmised by relaying a sentiment that echoed throughout the halls of the venue after the band’s time on stage.

Following their set and prior to Krasno taking the to the Gramercy Theatre stage many members of the audience discussed how they had came out to see Krasno but how awe struck they found themselves by the Marcus King Band’s performance.  That’s the power of the Marcus King Band right there; they simply cannot be denied even if you’ve never heard a single note of the band’s music prior to seeing them perform live for the first time.

I’ve deliberately avoided mentioning to this point Warren Haynes, who has served as mentor to King for years now, while also producing and playing on the band’s self-titled sophomore effort that was released late last year.  No disrespect to Haynes as his influence on King has proved to be positive in every regard imaginable but the Marcus King Band deserves their own time in the sun and that time is now.

Simply put there’s clearly a new King on the block and he and his band mates are on a holy musical crusade that even Jake and Elwood Blues would claim is of divine intervention.

Whether the band is actually on a mission from God to rock the masses may be up for debate.  I do however have a strong suspicion that God, Saint Peter and bevy of arch angels may just be up in heaven rocking out to a few Marcus King Band tracks at this very moment as each of them attempt to figure out who can get the better seats to the band’s next big show.  They better act quick, tickets are going fast, really fast.

Blues Rock Review

via Blues Rock Review

From the original three members, The Marcus King Band has expanded to six with a horn section, and with Warren Haynes producing the album on his Evil Teen label they have released their sophomore album, the self-titled The Marcus King Band. To use the band’s own description this is a collection of “soul-influenced psychedelic southern rock” and that could not describe their sound any better.

Opening with the ’70s soul horns of “Aint’ Nothing Wrong With That” you can clearly hear Warren’s influence on them and they only get better from there. Marcus’ guitar and unique vocal stylings underpin the plaintive refrain of “Devil’s Land.” “Rita Is Gone” meanwhile uses the new horn and a funky bass line to full R&B effect for slow reminiscent jam. Derek Trucks makes an appearance on the jam band, jazz influenced, and slide dominated “Self- Hatred.”

“Jealous Man” is a stellar track that unfortunately just as the guitar is really starting to take off they wrap it but you can see where this will be a great extended jam when done live. Marcus’ slide guitar lends a strong counterpoint to his vocals on the Southern rock of “The Man You Didn’t Know.” Then the keyboards lay down a funky rhythm on the furiously paced “Plant Your Corn Early” where both horn players get nice solo breaks in the middle. You can almost picture Chicago with just a harder rock sound.

Starting with the drum opening of “Radio Soldier” the quality of the whole band becomes evident as you begin to realize the breadth of styles that this group can cover so effectively. “Guitar in My Hands” combines an acoustic guitar with a soaring slide for a quick jaunt into folk and southern country territory. The instrumental “Thespian Espionage” evokes a smoky jazz club with a running bass line, great horn work in the opening and especially when the flute solo courtesy of Kofi Burbridge of Tedeschi Trucks Band breaks out mid song. Warren Haynes makes an appearance playing slide guitar for “Virgina.” “Sorry About You Lover” is another acoustic dominated track where Marcus appears to pull double duty on a pedal steel guitar also. The closer just emphasizes the Jam Band aspect of the this band with the constant evolution of the short “The Mystery of Mr. Eads.”

Imagine a mash up of the Southern soul of Warren Haynes, the jam band sound of Tedeschi Trucks Band, with a little bit of Hendrix’s creativity thrown in for good measure and you have a group fronted by a young up and comer who’s here to put everyone on notice that he’s here. This is talented group that deserves a listen to by everyone.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks
– Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That
– Jealous Man
– Rita Is Gone
– Plant Your Corn Early

The Big Hit
– Jealous Man

Small Stages Not Much Longer: The Marcus King Band Lights Up Nectars

 
 

via Glide Magazine

Since the release of its eponymous sophomore album last autumn, The Marcus King Band has generated a groundswell of recognition for itself with almost constant roadwork. The group’s appearance at Nectar’s in Burlington on January 26th suggested the precocious group will be headlining shows regularly before too long.

It was poetic justice of sorts that a line formed down the block from the doors of the storied venue when the doors did not open at the prescribed time. But the resulting restlessness of the crowd translated directly to the rustling expectations inside the club so that, after even more delay, The Marcus King Band were welcomed like conquering heroes.

The audience was certainly ready to be bowled over and they slowly surely were during the course of a virtually uninterrupted ninety minutes unified by the likes of “Devil’ Land.” MKB proved they are all they’ve been cracked up to be, as one wag noted, their name now spreading like the proverbial wildfire via social media, word of mouth and internal publicity including the band’s fanbase. It’d be too easy to pigeonhole this group as Southern rockers despite the fact that, for lovers of Dixie Rock, they do hearken to virtually every great group in the genre, including the Allmans, Marshall Tucker and Skynyrd.

But The Marcus King Band transcends its influences. They’ve internally processed their roots with an authentic nod to the blues, in the form of a dramatically emphatic version of B. B. King’s “Sweet Little Angel,” residing comfortably beside a crafty interpolation of Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” within their own “Plant Your Corn Early.” Like the late guitarist of the latter band, Terry Kath, Marcus too is a monster on electric guitar and his singing this night proved only a little less striking.

And then there’s the of Philly soul wafting through the horn parts on “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That” late in the set, this following crescendo after another softly majestic crescendo linked the set. This single, unified block of songs evolved in such a way that MKB touched every base, including band intros at the end; consummately professional but never slick, King and his group are polished to be sure, but hardly so much the edge is gone from the music they make. Quite the contrary.

Horn solos by both Dean Mitchell on sax and Justin Johnson on trumpet furthered the sextet’s momentum as much as King’s rapid-fire exchange with drummer Jack Ryan near the end. And that came after his rhythm guitar cushioned the trumpet and sax as they comped along, reaffirming the musicianly approach of this entire ensemble. When keyboardist Matt Jennings got his chance to step out on electric piano, after spending much of the evening filling in spaces via his organ, he was as tasteful as he was propulsive in his playing.

Which might well describe the guitar work of the leader, who showcased his skills, smartly enough, at the beginning and near the end of the show as an effective means of rousing the crowd to acts of noisy guitar hero worship. There was a continuous intensity to the performance of The Marcus King Band at Nectar’s, but the ebb and flow from stark moments such as the new song performed solo by the leader, to the dense likes of the closing number rendered the experience constantly surprising and completely satisfying.

Photos courtesy of Ross Mickel/Bootleggers Beware Photography

MKB at The Ride Festival

Hey y'all! Very excited to announce today that MKB will be playing at the 2017 Ride Festival in Telluride, CO July 8-9, 2017. The full lineup includes Beck, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, The John Butler Trio, Rival Sons, Kaleo, The Temperance Movement, Jackie Greene and more!

 
 

Red Rocks August 19 with Gov't Mule & Yonder Mountain String Band

Hey Ya'll! We're very excited to announce that we will be making our first appearance at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO Saturday, August 19 with Gov't Mule and Yonder Mountain String Band. Tickets will go on sale Friday, February 10 at 10am MT. Can't wait to see you all there!

 
 

Rockstone Sessions

via Rockstone Sessions

It must be said that Rockstone’s encounter with the insanely talented Marcus King at Crossing Border Festival had our jaws dropping from the moment this guy started singing. If you never heard of this musician, you are in for a treat. No, even if you did hear of this artist, you are in for a treat. Forget about your expectations (even though I am probably raising them right now), because this will exceed all of them. Marcus King surprises with funky blues, that’s rough around the edges. His music is also referred to as ‘psychedelic southern rock’. Whatever it is, it’s good. Enjoy!