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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hard Time Killing Floor Blues - Chris Thomas King

King was born on October 14, 1964, in Baton Rouge. His father, Tabby Thomas, is a locally prominent bluesman who owned a club called Tabby's Blues Box, which opened in 1979 and closed in 2004 following Tabby’s retirement. As a result, King, started early toward his musical future; even as a youngster he was well known as Rockin' Tabby's son and a child genius. While frequenting his father's club he performed with the late Silas Hogan, Guitar Kelly and Clarence Edwards, three masters of swamp blues. By sixth grade, King was learning to play the trumpet and later traveling as a rhythm guitar player of famous musicians like Lowell Folsom and Joe Tex. As he matured in the musical setting of New Orleans area blues culture, King was encouraged to experiment and develop his own style. Because each blues musician had a unique playing and singing style, he was discouraged from singing others' songs or even playing the way they did. He told Lisa Simeone on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, "They would never sit me down and say, 'Well, this is how it goes.' They ... told me don't sing their songs ... 'Find your own song and sing that.'"

At some time around 1980, while King was still in his teens, he toured in Europe with a group of Louisiana artists. After returning to the United States he produced a demo recording playing all the instruments himself, which led to a deal with Arhoolie Records. King's debut album, The Beginning, appeared in 1986 and featured King on vocals, bass, and guitar. Arhoolie reissued the album in 2001 under the title “It's a Cold Ass World.”

King signed a major recording contract with Warner Brothers Records in 1989 and headlined a national tour to support the release of his greatly anticipated follow-up “Cry of the Prophets,” making his national television debut on the David Letterman Show. However, after releasing his first album, which was steeped in tradition, he embarked on bold artistic directions of his own, on following albums. Controversy and debate grew among purists because of the uncharted directions he was taking the blues. He was the first bluesman to embrace the digital music revolution and the first to introduced hip-hop along with sampling and deejay-distorted electronica into genre.

Like Miles Davis and Bob Dylan before him, Chris Thomas King was originally celebrated as the young savior of an aging musical culture when he first arrived on the national scene. Branded as a rebel King was banned form blues festivals across the United States. He fled to Denmark to cool his heels in the more liberal environment that flourished in Europe. While in Denmark he recorded and released the critically acclaimed hip-hop blues album “21st Century Blues from da hood.” The French embraced him as a major artist with vision and the rest of Europe followed. He toured with his Danish band extensively across Europe playing major festivals and theaters but longed to return to New Orleans. Upon returning to the United States in 1995, he started his own independent production company and record label, 21st Century Blues. Soon after he found success as a film composer and actor. Winning three Grammy Awards by 2003 and several Country music CMA awards.
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