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
Mike Harson's coffers show the advantage of incumbency.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will vote on an ordinance for final adoption Tuesday that, if approved, would give the city the green light to take over a stretch of Verot School Road from the state Department of Transportation and Development.
The Louisiana Association of Educators filed a lawsuit challenging the $60 million in spending through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
He's been out of office for nearly a decade, but former U.S. Sen. John Breaux is back on the campaign trail, urging voters to support his one-time colleague, Democrat Mary Landrieu.
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While much of the talk was about whether New Orleans could win a big game — or any game, for that matter — on the road, the conversation in the Saints' locker room was about something completely different.
State health officials told thousands of doctors planning to attend a tropical diseases meeting this weekend in New Orleans to stay away if they have been to certain African countries or have had contact with an Ebola patient in the last 21 days.
Republicans are calling on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to apologize after she suggested Thursday that President Barack Obama's deep unpopularity in the South is partly tied to race.
Compared to the rest of the country, Lafayette has it pretty good when it comes to the cost and speed of our Internet.
Hello Kitty turns 40; police ambush suspect caught; Knicks surprise Cavs and more national and international news for Friday, October 31, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
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The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
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Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
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