Over the course of his career, Will King has shared bills with Richie Havens, The Machine, Dave Davies (The Kinks) and Buster Poindexter among countless other fun, intrepid and thought-provoking acts.                         


If you're interested in booking Will King
email
wbradking [at] hotmail dot com


Reviews

King comes in with a message for you

By Chuck Waters


A while back, I got a lead on an artist named Will King. I was invited to
check out his new CD, "Come on in from the Cold." It was posted on a local
website.

Cool title in the blistering dog days of summer. So, I did.

What I found was an almost hypnotic blend of music. Like a slowly unfolding
daydream. Hard to pigeonhole. If you took Cat Stevens, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan
and Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke and John Fahey, and crafted a jigsaw, you'd be
close.

I admit being unfamiliar with Will, but he has pedigree. Co-founder of the
group Melange, which mixed jazz and blues with psychedelic rock, King opted out
in the late 1990s and decided on a solo career. Something of a later bloomer
(he says he didn't learn how to play guitar until he was 19), King has an
appreciation of eastern music and favors a six string T. Haruo acoustic guitar. The
tone and fullness of sound is extraordinary. You'd think he was double
tracking and overdubbing all over the place. He isn't. The stunning instrumental,
"One Thousand Birds," was done in one take.

The press kit describes "Come on in from the Cold" as something of a concept
album, but King says it deals more with the cycles of life. "There are many
different characters on this album and they all seem to be searching for
something or somebody. I  see songs like short stories. Often, I simply act as a
conduit. If there is a message, it is to be true to yourself regardless of the
consequences. And as we all know, there are consequences in this life."

King doesn’t preach, but he does encourage one to think. He is quite specific
when it comes to what he wants to convey on his album. " ‘ Kyoto ’ is taking a
hard line against horrible environmental practices, and ‘Venetian Blind’
tells the story of an old man who can’t let go while ‘I.O.U.’ condemns those who
abuse power for personal gain," he says.

Guests include John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers on mandolin on the
title track, and John Ventimiglia (Artie Bracco on "The Sopranos") who has a
spoken narrative on "28 Days." Supporting musicians include Doug Yowell  (Suzanne
Vega) on drums and Saul Zonana (Ace Frehley of Kiss) on bass.

Will views life as a continuum and approaches his music that way.  "Birth and
death are bookends. We all unfold in different ways and at different times.
If one of these songs resonates with a listener and allows him or her to look a
bit differently at life then I’m grateful."

There’s a lot to kick around here. At 35, King sees himself as just starting
to come into his own. When asked whether he considers himself more a
singer/songwriter or a guitarist, he had to smile.

"I began playing guitar late, at the age of 19 while attending college. At
the time, most of my friends played guitar and I quickly realized that if I
wanted to be active, I needed to learn. With the help of a few friends, I learned
some chords and practiced like crazy, sometimes five or six hours a day. By 21
I was writing my own music. As I’ve gotten older, I do feel more like a
singer-songwriter because I really enjoy encapsulating a story within music. But I
also like to leave words behind and go deep musically; so my recordings and
gigs, I think, show my varied approaches and interests."

King likes the richness of the open tunings his T. Hauro guitar allows. "I
simply love the fullness and also, I often feel in uncharted territory which is
refreshing. I find my songwriting is at times more liberated in this format.
It allows me to connect with a middle-eastern vibe which I really enjoy
pursuing."

King is well versed in the classics. "I grew up listening to classic rock
preferring San Francisco [Bay Area] and British rock. For awhile it was heavy
doses of the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin. Then, of course, you need more. I
began listening to more acoustic singer songwriters like Cat Stevens, George
Harrison, Tom Waits, Bob Marley, Leonard Cohen and just so many others. Miles
Davis had a big impact on me as well."

But he wasn’t listening just for fun.

"From some artists you learn about chord progression and melody while others
teach you about lyrics and phrasings, some do both with ease. The Beatles are
a standard from which most, if not all, contemporary American music is based.
They were influenced by Dylan; Dylan was influenced by them and I along with
scores of others have been influenced by their collective legacy. However,
since everything builds upon itself, we are all feeding off guys like [blues
legend] Robert Johnson and Mozart."

That’s pretty heady company. But King’s CD player will find everything from
rock to glam to funk. "I find myself gravitating to bands and songwriters
somewhat off the beaten path and it changes all the time. M. Ward I like; Ryan
Adams and his incarnations are intriguing; anything with Lucinda Williams is
always a bonus. If it has depth and soul, I generally like it. In our house, it
can go from Nine Inch Nails to Polyphonic Spree to Ravi Shankar or War."

King shared a moment that was keen for him, opening for folk legend Richie
Havens. Anyone who has seem the film "Woodstock" can immediately recall Havens’
sweat-soaked rendition of "Freedom," bringing the arriving audience to a
frenzy as the stage was literally being built around him. "He continues to inspire
me. His voice is something else, getting better with age. I’ve learned a few
things from his approach. "

Ensconced in his native New York , King looks down the road and sees nothing
but horizon. "I just returned from doing a gig in Muskegon, Michigan . I was
asked to perform a song I wrote after the release of my album called ‘Edmund
Pettus Bridge How Long, Not Long.’ The song tells the story of ‘Bloody Sunday’
and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965."

And there is more to the story. King continues: "It was basically a Civil Rights quest. I,
along with a representative from the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self
Development, visited historic sites throughout the region [Georgia, Alabama , etc.]. When
we arrived in Selma, Ala. , I was struck by what I learned and experienced. A
song began percolating.  In May, I went in to the studio with drummer Aaron
Comess (Spin Doctors) to record the tune, which has taken on a life of its own.
In October, I will perform the song at the United Nations in conjunction with a
Rosa Parks event. "

That’s music with a message. King is looking forward to upcoming concert
dates in New York State and Connecticut, and is considering a concert tour in
Europe .

"Come on in from the Cold" is not a CD to simply pop in the player and let
go. You need to spend some time with it, let it permeate, appreciate its
intricacies and the message behind the music. It is one of the more intellectual
offerings I have heard in quite some time. Check it out at
www.willkingmusic.com.

With any luck, he’ll be heading our way soon.