Paste recorded more than 500 unique performances in our New York Studio during 2017, showcasing just about every kind of music in the process. Some of our artists were legends, like Taj Mahal, Bill Frisell and Steve Martin, who brought their devoted audiences to us. Others were baby bands seeking an introduction to the listening public. In every case, our Midtown recording library, with its perimeter of concert master tapes going back over 60 years, helped coax inspired performances from singer-songwriters and 10-piece Afro-jazz orchestras alike—well over 1,000 musicians in all. Choosing our favorite Paste Studio sessions was obviously a difficult, painful process, with spirited debate shifting into outright argument as we narrowed them down. Here are the 20 that stood out in our collective memory.
4. The Marcus King Band
This South Carolina-born guitarist and singer was raised on the blues, playing shows as a pre-teen sideman with his father, bluesman Marvin King. At age 21, he’s basically a veteran, leading his band through psych-inflected, horn-happy soundscapes of jazz and deep-fried vocals reminiscent of a young Gregg Allman. At Paste, King and the gang cooked the whole menu, running through a killer jazz instrumental (“Thespian Espionage”), a countrified acoustic shuffle (“Sorry ‘Bout Your Lover”) and an inflamed slow-blues (“Rita Is Gone”). King’s double-threat guitar skills and vocal depth augur a long career of insane performances like this one. —Matthew Oshinsky