October 28, 2022 | CULTURE | By Jonathan Cox
Welcome back, dear readers, to another edition of academically irresponsible fourth Tuesday decisions. Instead of the fourth Tuesday CROOÖOOZ, this time I will now be discussing a fourth Tuesday concert, banging my head to some viciously drum fills instead of against a fourth floor library table trying to cram-memorize Greek terms.
On fourth Tuesday, I made the pilgrimage up to Denver’s Mission Ballroom to see one of my new favorite artists: the Marcus King Band.
At 26, the Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and righteous guitar player has made the quite the name for himself, playing with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Tedeschi Trucks, and Gov’t Mule, while topping Billboard’sBlues Album Charts. The Greenville, S.C. native knows where he came from, and recognizes his duty in carrying the torch of “Southern Rock” forward for future generations, which came across on stage.
Marcus King hails from a proud lineage of musicians both in blood and in culture. At just eight years old, King played alongside his father, grandfather, and uncles, who were all prominent musicians in the Greenville area. This story is closely knit to Derek Trucks’ origin, a Jacksonville, Florida kid who played gigs with his uncle’s band –– none other than The Allman Brothers Band.
In this light, King’s musical heritage transcends his family to the responsibility of carrying the legacy of his musical culture: southern rock. Traditionally, southern rock blended rock and roll, blues, and country music to create an instantly recognizable sound.
King builds on this foundation with jazz and soul influences, taken from formal training in Jazz theory and performance. When listening to King’s work, listeners can pick out licks that ode to his formidable influences: most notably, Duane Allman, BB King, Albert King, Warren Haynes, and Derek Trucks.
While King is carrying the torch, ensuring that southern rock lives on, he has an unmistakable sound in his self-proclaimed “soul-influence psychedelic southern rock.” The horns section’s fervent blow backs King’s “soulful southern drawl” –– to quote a lyric from his song “No Pain.”
Marcus’s voice has a powerful rasp filled with life and controlled chaos, fit to lead any gospel choir he chooses, Gibson SG in hand. From modern classics like “Rita is Gone” and “Goodbye Carolina” to revitalized covers of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” to the gut-wrenching ballad “Wildflowers & Wine” and face-melting guitar licks in “Virginia” and “Confessions”, this songwriter has a killer quiver full of mastery for every genre.
At the concert, King mostly used his quiver of hard rock arrows, playing songs from his new album, “Young Blood”. Marcus is nodding here to his own budding talent, carrying on the legacy of the sound. As AC/DC once said, “Rock and roll will never die!”
What impressed me most, though, was that King was already paving the way for the next generation of players, even at a young age, which takes incredible foresight, maturity, and humility –– virtues I highly admire.
The already accomplished 26-year-old brought on Drew Smithers, refined in the crucible of Nashville guitar hopefuls. Smithers smooth slide is tasteful with a bite and he is undoubtedly another humble student of the late great Duane Allman. The future of southern rock is in good hands.