3:30 P.M. | DELTA DENTAL STAGE
take a listen!
It’s probably as reckless as it is unfair to label anyone as the future of the blues. But let’s go ahead and ordain Kingfish as the Future of the Blues. Actually, Kingfish is already the here and now of the blues. The 21-year-old guitarist has steadily climbed through the blues world over the past several years, continually showing unparalleled ability to capture the spirit of the blues in nearly every note.
Kingfish grew up in the heart of blues culture in Clarksdale, Miss., just a stone’s throw from the crossroads where Robert Johnson is said to have traded his soul for proficiency on guitar. While other kids his age wanted to become rappers, Kingfish knew from a fairly early age that he would embrace the blues. He seemed to have an innate understanding of the music and was drawn to the stories blues can tell. His wisdom may be unexplainable, but his vision is not. There was no crosswords magic in his world, only dutiful dedication to learning his instrument, starting on drums at age 8, moving to bass and then ultimately guitar by his early teens.
“You can hear that raw Delta honesty in his playing and singing,” says Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator Records, the world’s largest blues label. “His guitar work is technically dazzling, but it’s all about the motions of the song and moving the audience. His music is remarkably mature. He knows which are the important notes, the notes that tell the story and grab the audience, and he leaves out the extraneous ones. He sings with the intensity and directness of a seasoned blues artist.”
There is little question that Kingfish is that once in a generation artist who comes along and helps reshape the musical landscape. Rolling Stone magazine, National Public Radio and blues icon Buddy Guy all have identified Kingfish as an innovator and trailblazer. From his own perspective, Kingfish expresses strong love for the blues, but isn’t all that interested in how people may honor him. He’s more interested in how that blues is shared with the current generation. To that end, Kingfish participates in Blues In The Schools programs in Clarksdale and is an official ambassador of United By Music North America’s program of helping people with developmental disabilities express themselves through music.
Kingfish seems to understand how potent music can be in building communities. “My core is blues,” he says, “but it’s important for me to create a sound and style that is uniquely my own. I have a lot to say, so please stay tuned.”