1. In the movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou, you play a killer version of Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues.” Explain to the laymen why Skip James was so unique. First of all, his music is deceptively complex, because when you hear it, it sounds so natural and so comfortable, it sounds like running water…like you’re on the banks of the Mississippi. When T Bone Burnett told me one of the key songs in the movie was going to be “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” and he wanted me to play it, I played him my interpretation of it. But they wanted it as close to the original as possible, and I had to go back and do some homework. His style is so unique. It’s not something that came naturally to me; it was a challenge to master that song, but now it’s become part of my repertoire. It comes natural to me now.
2. Where in the world do people most strongly react to blues music? Moscow surprised me. A few years back we did a festival tour of Russia sponsored by a major Western European beer company. The look on people’s faces and the body language of the people in the audiences, their jaws were dropping. It just seemed that they had not been exposed to music with that kind of emotional impact, that type of feeling that the blues emotes. Those were performances that I’ll always remember. They weren’t jaded, they were excited, and they were hearing something new. And when you tour around the U.S. you rarely get that; most people are jaded about the form.
3. How would you describe your own style of playing? I’d like to think that my style is unique, and I haven’t seen too many people play the slide guitar and rap and sing. I think you have to be able to do a lot of different things well in order to perform my songbook. A few bands have adapted my style. After I recorded “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues,” which is a song that most people had never heard, Buddy Guy and lots of rock artists recorded it. A lot of people were moved. I’ve heard my influences in people like The White Stripes and others. When I think of B.B. King or Buddy Guy, even though those are great musical heroes of mine, lots of people over the years have adapted their style of picking and can emulate them. I think my style is a new approach and a little more challenging than others. It’s not a purposeful thing; it’s just that I use 21st century techniques to create my music. A lot of blues that came before me has become more formulaic. I play slide, acoustic, finger-picking, electric, and I sing and rap, and that makes it a little bit more challenging.
4. What’s the future of the music industry? Where’s it going? I’m part of the blues genre, which is a very small segment of the music business. I have my own record label, 21st Century Blues Records. When I talk to other people in this business, they’re concerned. The audience is older, and they’re not as into downloading music. Now anyone who wants to record and release music internationally can do it, but the problem is fans out there have to sift through so much music to find some quality. It’s a little more difficult and intimidating for the consumer. There’s just a lot of clutter out there. I think that the superstar days of being able to throw televisions out of hotel room windows, MTV Cribs, and a lot of that is disappearing. A lot of people that are just in this business for the money are going to leave, and it’s going to go back to what music was like in the beginning before Thomas Edison. Music was a way people entertained each other and themselves. And some musicians were able to make a living from it, but it was kind of rare that they would make an extraordinary amount of money from it. I also see a day in the distant future when copyrights catch up to the Internet and technology, songwriters, publishers and content owners are going to do very, very well.
5. What can we expect from Chris Thomas King in the future? I have a book deal, and I’ve been writing a book for about the last year and a half about the 25 years that my family ran Tabby’s Blues Box and club. It’s kind of a memoir about growing up in a juke joint. It talks about the history of where Louisiana blues originated and how Tabby’s Blues Box helped build a bridge and continued to develop a new generation of musicians. And it’ll talk about how this music has gone on to influence Hollywood. When people heard me in movies like Ray and O, Brother — that’s an extension of what people heard in the Blues Box on a typical night. I’ve also got a lot more music in the works. I plan to release several EPs with four to six songs each this year because there’s no reason to wait and do a 14-song album. And I’ll be touring extensively. My music can all be found at my Web site: ChrisThomasKing.com and iTunes.
Nawlins Callin’ (EP), 21st Century Blues, 2009
Rise, 21st Century Blues, 2006
The Legend of Tommy Johnson, Stony Plain, 2001 reissued 2007
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Original Soundtrack, Mercury, 2000
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
C & C Technologies, HIT Fitness, R3 Sciences, the Acadiana Symphony Association and the United Way of Acadiana recognized for innovation.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra has decided to end its traditional Independence Day spectacular known as Red White & Boom.
Under the deal, Teche shareholders would get 1.162 shares of IberiaBank for each share of Teche stock.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, April 17, 2014:
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
The must have pieces this season
Dave Perkins, LCG Comp Plan honored along with local architects and designers at the 2014 INDesign Awards
Greg Manuel’s Lafayette-based residential development company is taking advantage of exponential industrial growth in Lake Charles.
Longtime Lafayette retailer ventures online.
It’s not how aggressive or conservative you are — it’s planning for risk that matters most.
Thanks to cutting-edge digital technology, more and more consumers are banking on ATMs and mobile phones.
Regional bank bids farewell to Downtown May 30
ABiz takes a look back at the most noteworthy moments for the local banking industry over the last year.
Most experts say short-term interest rates will be unchanged through 2014, but long-term rates are inching up.
Largest recruitment event in Acadiana returns May 21 to the Cajundome Convention Center
A lawyer’s ad should only be a starting point, as there is much more to consider when seeking quality representation.
Thanks to the inaugural 2012 INNOV8, a design for lifting heavy objects was brought to market.
The annual juried competition recognizes excellence in architecture, interior design and historic preservation in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Cypress Bayou GM hosts open house.
New hires, promotions, transfers in Acadiana business
The scion of a landmark Four Corners restaurant climbs back into Lafayette’s culinary scene as franchisee for a popular burger chain.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.