Rock Revolt Review: Due North EP

via Rock Revolt

The Marcus King Band’s upward trajectory this past year has seen the six-piece out of Greenville, South Carolina release their sophomore self-titled LP to critical acclaim, tour Europe extensively and play one of the most revered live music venues in this country in Red Rocks.

The band’s seemingly unstoppable momentum carries on with Due North, their latest four- song EP released this past week on Fantasy Records.

Combining elements of sublime southern rock, traditional blues, improvisational jazz and scorching guitar riffs, all backed by a thunderous horns and rhythm section, The Marcus King Band continue to prove that if there’s an heir to the Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic, Phish jam band crown, citizens of the world need look no further than the 21-year-old guitar hero and his band of musical brothers.

The EP provides unique transparency into what fans should expect to experience at any given Marcus King Band live performance.  Soulful, funky, diverse, and just flat out rocking, Due North offers an ample taste of the southern fried blues and psychedelia that’s at the very root of the band’s musical DNA.

Due North wastes no time in igniting the rock and blues pyre as the the first track, “What’s Right” features King’s raucous guitar riffs that are equally balanced out by funk driven soundscapes. Bassist Stephen Campbell and drummer Jack Ryan’s talents rise to the occasion on “What’s Right,” providing an outstanding complimentary backbeat to King’s licks.

The second track sees King and company offer up a playful and upbeat take on the Marshal Tucker Band’s, “This Ol’ Cowboy.”   The song gives fans the opportunity to experience, on record, the interplay and balance between King’s resplendent guitar playing juxtaposed alongside the the band’s red hot horn section comprised of Justin Johnson on Trumpet and Dean Mitchell on Saxophone. 

I imagine if the late Toy Caldwell of the Marshall Tucker Band somehow has access to Spotify or iTunes in the after life, he’s spinning this track repeatedly while likely sporting a mile-wide grin of approval and appreciation.

The final studio recorded track off of Due North, “Slip Back,” displays the kind of deliberate musical astriction that’s become a staple of the band’s trademark sound. 

Showcasing King’s raspy southern vocals, the track slowly builds with Mitchell eventually stepping to the forefront to deliver a soulful saxophone solo, all before the band ramps up the energy to bring the song to a fiery conclusion.

The EP’s final track is a live conglomeration of the band’s own, “Sharry Berry,” followed by segue ways into Jeff Sipes, “Sliced Milk,” Chicago’s “25 or 6 To 4,” Funkadelics “I’ll Stay” and the Billie Holiday classic, “Gloomy Sunday.” 

The song provides the perfect vehicle for showcasing the talents of Ryan, Campbell, Johnson and Mitchell while also cementing the fact that the band’s immense talent goes well beyond just Marcus King.

The EP itself came to life as part of the carriage house recording sessions from 2016 that ultimately yielded the Warren Hayne’s produced LP, the self-titled The Marcus King Band. Haynes, of  Gov’t Mule and The Allman Brothers Band fame, once again brings his producing expertise to the table on Due North.

Due North certainly seems aptly titled as the direction of the Marcus King Band has and continues to be pointed directly towards the sky, the the moon, the stars and beyond.   

It’s never too late to jump on the cosmic soul, funk and rock music fueled starship that is the Marcus King Band.   As the Love Boat theme so brilliantly put it back in the 80’s, come on board, we’re expecting you.