Alligator Records has a proud history of signing electric blues guitarists. In fact, many would say it’s the label’s main attraction, starting with Son Seals and continuing through Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, Roy Buchanan, Michael Hill, Michael Burks, Toronzo Cannon, Selwyn Birchwood and now Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. Only 20 years old, he was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and is a product of the blues program at the Delta Blues Museum there. As a teen, he posted YouTube videos which garnered millions of views and led to two songs placed on the Netflix Luke Cage TV show soundtrack. He is a protegé of Buddy Guy, who appears on the first single, “Fresh Out”. For this debut album, Tom Hambridge, producer extraordinaire, was brought on board to help with writing his songs, play drums and add background vocals. Keb’ Mo’ is also a fan, adding guitar to four songs plus duetting on “Listen”. It’s clear from these songs that he knows blues history, his songs are firmly in the blues tradition but he brings them up to date. The basic lineup is two guitars, bass and drums and the opening “Outskirts of this Town” uses them to full effect on a rocking tale, things have to better somewhere else – a searing Kingfish solo finishes it off. Somewhat slower is “Fresh Out (of Lovin’)” with Kingfish & Buddy Guy trading solos and verses. With Keb’ Mo’ on guitar and Hambridge, this is an all-star affair and worth every second. The toe-tapping “If You Love Me” was written with another newcomer, Jontavious Willis, and features Billy Branch on harp. Although written by Kingfish & Hambridge, “Listen (to your Heart)” is right out of the Keb’ Mo’ songbook with its attractive melody, a fine duet. “Believe These Blues” is a Hambridge original that should be heard by everyone, a beautifully written & sung lyric about the staying power of blues. Kingfish is quite prepared to do country blues as well: “Hard Times”, with Keb’ Mo’ on resonator guitar, has lyrics about doomsday around the corner, a perennial blues subject and in his eyes, even more relevant today. His web site doesn’t show any dates near us for some time but this hard-touring young man is definitely worth catching. Stay informed at www.christonekingfishingram.com. 

Loose Blues News – July 2019
July 2019 - Terry Robb