Marcus King was born to play the blues — and pretty much any other form of music that pops into his head.
In recent years, the 21-year-old guitarist, singer and bandleader has been able to venture away from his Greenville, South Carolina, base and take his sound to venues and festivals around the United States. On Wednesday, the Marcus King Band wrapped up a nine-date, seven-country visit to Europe. On Friday at 5:30 p.m., it will be onstage for a free concert in a lot adjacent to the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines.
“Our work ethic and the amount of touring we’re doing is really building our tour history and our fan base so we can get to new markets and see some different parts of the world,” King, a second-generation musician, said in a recent phone interview. “We just really stay busy and stay after it all the time. This is a big part of it here in the early stages, trying to get it out there to as many people as you can. Personally, I feel more comfortable staying busy — you know what they say about idle hands.”
Those hands, and a distinctive voice, have helped King catch the attention of powerful peers in the music industry, and the credibility of his association with them has provided tangible benefits.
The band is co-managed by Stef Scamardo, a host on SiriusXM’s “Jam On” channel. Her husband is guitarist Warren Haynes, leader of the hard rock band Gov’t. Mule for the past two decades and a longtime staple in the lineup of the Allman Brothers Band. He’s frequently brought King onstage with him for extra spice at Mule concerts.
Haynes produced all the tracks on the group’s latest album, “The Marcus King Band,” and chipped in on slide guitar on a track called “Virginia.” Another Southern guitar superstar, Derek Trucks, adds his slide mastery on “Self-Hatred,” and Kofi Burbridge, a key member of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, contributes the keyboards and flute to the instrumental jam “Thespian Espionage.”
The band started with 22 songs, King said, and whittled the list to 13 for the album. Of those that didn’t make the cut, he said, “We’re going to put some more work on it, slap a coat of paint on it and see how it goes next time.”
Haynes said in a band news release that King “is the first player I’ve heard since Derek Trucks to play with the maturity of a musician well beyond his age.
“He’s very much influenced by the blues, but also by jazz, rock, soul music, and any timeless genres of music,” Haynes added. “You can hear the influences, but it all comes through him in his own unique way. He has one of those voices that instantly draws you in, and his guitar playing is an extension of his voice and vice versa.”
That might explain why King calls his band’s sound a gumbo of “jazz-infused, twang-inflected, psychedelic, Southern rock, soul sensation.”
That means that those in attendance at Friday night’s concert are in for a little bit of everything, King promised.
“That’s about any live show for us — cut off your mind and just let the music speak,” he said.