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.