King’s Highway – The Marcus King Band Hits the Road

Marcus King has lived a lot of musical life in his 20 years.

Growing up in a musical family, he got his first guitar at age 7. He began gigging with his own band at age 14. When your father, grandfather and uncles all play music professionally, it comes a little more naturally. However, one aspect that can’t be learned is the spirit that permeates throughout King’s appropriately titled debut album “Soul Insight.”

That album was picked up by fellow Carolinian Warren Haynes’s imprint Evil Teen. Haynes has become somewhat of a mentor, producing and playing on the band’s sophomore effort. While the band is currently putting the finishing touches on that for an August release date, that won’t stop them from heavily peppering set lists with new tunes.

While the concept of a prodigy blues player is far from new, King is a different animal. His soulful licks and rock-gut vocals are much more prominent than any musical acrobatics. The playing is top-notch, but the songs are the stars here.

I caught up with King as he arrived in Jacksonville, Fla. as he gears up for a string of dates that starts at Middletown, Ohio’s Old Crow Bar. We talked about working with Haynes, the band’s approach to live shows and his influences. 

You’ve played more than 1,000 shows already. What was it like to start gigging out at such an early age?
It was pretty wild being a real young cat in the music scene, trying to go into these clubs because half of them wouldn’t even let me in the door. They would make me wait outside until it was time for me to play. I just had a reminder of that when we were in Austin for South by Southwest. This club wouldn’t let me in the building until set time. (laughs)

At this point, are you sick of the age question?
I think the older I get the less people want to ask. Now, I’m just some 20-year old. (laughs)

What is your approach to live shows? Do the set lists change from night to night?
Live shows are always pretty much a release of energy from the day, whatever that might be. It’s all just therapy for us. We just try to let it all out on stage. Set lists tend to just be guidelines. Anything can change at the drop of a hat. It’s really all up to the audience. Based off the reciprocation and love we’re receiving at a particular venue, is how the set list is going to go. Sometimes, the set list might be right on point. Other times, somebody will ask if they can have the set list and I’ll say “it’s not accurate.” A lot of these tunes take different forms and shapes at the live shows. That’s why we love tapers. We like to have them be able to capture something that will never happen the same way again.

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