Interview by Danny Coleman
“One of my mentors who just passed away; he was one of my teachers in the blues and he used to give the kids in the blues museum different nicknames and whatnot and he gave me the name Kingfish. I didn’t like it at first but it stuck and never died and there are still kids from the neighborhood who are still calling me by it,” laughed one of the hottest commodities on the international Blues music scene, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram as he discussed his latest album, “Live In London,” his blues roots and his upcoming October 11 gig at Brooklyn Bowl in Philadelphia, PA.
Like the birth of the Blues, Ingram calls Clarksdale, Mississippi his hometown and ever since he began posting videos on YouTube as a teenager, the now 24 year old guitar whiz has carved a path to success.
His first album, 2019’s “Kingfish” was nominated for a Grammy Award which he followed up with the critically acclaimed Grammy Award winning “662” in 2021. Ingram credits his sound and style to his Delta roots and some local as well as legendary artists and when told about a recent appearance in Long Branch by Anthony “Big A” Sherrod; his reaction was one of excitement with a touch of reverence.
“Big A? He’s the guy!” He said with respect. “He was actually one of my late teachers in the Delta Blues scene; that’s raw Mississippi you’re listening to right there (laughs). Part of what I do is from the Clarksdale sound and with me being from Clarksdale I definitely was brought up listening to guys like him and other local legends that you may not know that have passed on like Michael James, Razorblade Stewart and Big Jack Johnson; so the Clarksdale blues sound plays into what I do as well.”
With the release of “Live In London,” next week on October 13 on Alligator Records, Ingram now has three albums in approximately six years; a lot of music in a short time frame but his reasons for putting out a live record are both personal as well as fan driven. “I feel like after having two studio records under my belt that have done well, along with a few singles; Why not? The fans have been asking me for the last couple of years to do a live record because a lot of them say the studio records are great but the Kingfish live experience is kind of like a beast. So, I just felt like it was time; plus I have a new show, I’ve added some new arrangements to the songs so, yeah.”
There are artists whose live performances far exceed their studio recordings and as stated above, Christone is one but blues, like Jazz, is often subject to the artist’s interpretation which usually comes in the form of improvisation while on stage; Ingram is in agreement.
“Most definitely,” he said emphatically. “I feel like blues are better with feel. When I’m in the studio I’m restrained and when I’m on the stage I’m able to feel and improvise more instead of saying, which solo goes here and whatnot. So, yeah, it’s definitely a feel thing and that’s better.”
When asked if having other musicians join him on stage while touring with his band is something he enjoys; he laughed as he disclosed an “Anxious” secret.
“This is my exact touring band and even though they didn’t do my first two records they were still touring with me at the time but yeah; this is my actual touring band with me. I think it is actually cool, I have more anxiety when I step on stage and I don’t think I can work up myself to do that without a couple of rehearsals but I do get it, it’s a spontaneous thing to hear someone new interpret your music a whole different way for sure.”
October 11 finds Kingfish at Brooklyn Bowl in Philadelphia, a venue he enjoys playing. His shows last from approximately 90-minutes to two hours in length and when told if he keeps winning Grammy and Blues Music Awards he’ll need to start playing bigger places; his humble answer was refreshing.
“We usually play 90 to 100 minutes and if the energy is there we give it back, especially when the energy is high but it’s gonna be a great show for sure. I enjoy playing at the Brooklyn Bowl, it’s definitely a step up from the venues I was playing in the past when I was a teenager.”
“Live In London” is a 17 track two CD or two vinyl set which includes new material and bonus tracks which has been called “Soul stirring” and to discover more about it, Kingfish or purchase tickets to the Philly show; please visit https://www.christonekingfishingram.com/kingfish-home/
More about Danny Coleman and Rock On Radio on https://dannycolemansrockonradio.com/danny