The annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam is known more as a showcase for established talent than a training ground for up-and-comers, but that doesn’t mean that young talent doesn’t get noticed. Just ask Marcus King.
King played the Jam By Day event last year, rocking out the tiny One Stop music venue on College Street. The daytime concerts lead up to the official Jam, led by Asheville native Warren Haynes, one of the best rock guitarists on the scene.
The two have mutual friends in town, including musicians Jeff Anders and Rocky Lindsley, “cats that I write with and collaborate with, and they got some of our stuff to Warren and Stef (Warren’s wife),” King says.
“They listened to it and really liked it and we played the Jam by Day, and that’s when Stefani and I started talking,” King says.
It didn’t hurt that King, just 19, is a straight-up guitar prodigy. His father, Marvin King, and grandfather, Bill, are both well-established in the Greenville, S.C., area where Marcus King grew up. At age 11, Marcus joined Marvin King & The Blues Revival. At 15, The Marcus King Band opened for legendary bluesman Johnny Winter.
After connecting with King, Haynes wasted no time in signing The Marcus King band to his record label, Evil Teen Records. “I’m really grateful to be working with those folks. They’re great,” King says.
In September 2014, King released 12 original tunes on a record called Soul InSight. King’s voice screams soul, and his guitar playing has critics comparing him to greats such as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
It’s all a bit much for the somewhat shy King, who references a Hendrix quote when asked about the glowing compliments.
“Compliments are distractions. My grandfather felt the same way and he told me never to get the big head. I always appreciate compliments and I’m very gracious, but I’m always trying to work harder to get to the next level,” King says.
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