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
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.