The Mississippi Delta is rife with history and culture. A combination of music, Native American and Civil War history have led to an interesting melting pot, spawning a unique genre of music that could only come from one place, the Southern United States.
Over the years, blues music has conformed and adapted to modern styles and tastes, but at the same time, traditional blues and its roots can still be heard no matter who plays it.
Blues is one of the ultimate forms of music for portraying and expressing one’s own life, pain, suffering, happiness and joy in a very literal and emotional sense.
One of the best to do it these days is Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram, who is following the footsteps of the greats. Ingram’s own journey is based on learning what the blues means to him, while keeping his roots intact, and his feet firmly planted on the ground. Last summer he performed with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Buddy Guy as part of the Backroads Blues Festival tour. A fact Kenny Wayne Shepherd mentioned multiple times in our recent interview with Kenny.
Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram, is no stranger to music and has been surrounded by it his entire life. So, let’s let Chris tell his story and how he got to where he is today.
Take me through the recording process for 662.
Things have been a little shaky here and there for sure, but we’re doing alright. When we got off the road and into quarantine I just wanted to record a record, something that showcased my roots, and how much I’ve evolved musically. I got it with Tom Hambridge and Richard Fleming and we pretty much wrote songs over Zoom from May until September and when September came we probably had at least like 21 songs.
We went back to Nashville to the Ocean Way Studios for a week and we got every one of those songs recorded. I felt like these were perfect songs. They told my story they showcase my more personal side and that’s how 662 came about.
Much like your debut album Kingfish, 662 features real-life stories. Would you say it’s a continuation of your debut?
In a way, yes. I felt like the first record people got a glimpse of myself, but it wasn’t all that personal, you know? I got a little deeper, and a little more transparent, so to speak.
What songs are you excited to play live from 662?
I really, really enjoy playing all of it and I can’t wait to play any of it live! I really do feel what I do and the stage is where it’s at for me.
Where did music begin with you?
My mom sang in church. All of my uncles and aunts on that side of the family played guitar and bass and sang in church. I’d be around all of them when I was younger. They were the first musicians that I was influenced and inspired by back then.
I found out about the city that I lived in, Clarksdale, Mississippi and its rich blues history, and I started to dive more into that. I then enrolled in Delta Blues Education Program in Clarksdale, where I learned how to play music from known bluesman Richard ‘Daddy Rich’ Crisman. So, that was the beginning as far as me taking the steps to learn and getting inspired to want to play music.
Did you already know how to play guitar and sing at that point or was it all completely new?
I was a singer as a child and I played drums in church. No real formal training or anything. I had an interest in guitar and I knew how to hold it and whatnot but I didn’t know anything about how to play it.
Having grown up in the Mississippi Delta, you must have been surrounded by a lot of blues music. Who are your main influences?
I’m always going to say the Delta blues acoustic guys: Son House, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters. Then I go to the rock Gods out there like Jimi Hendrix and Prince. As far as todays music, I’m really inspired and influenced by Thundercat, Bruno Mars and Silk Sonic. I’m into both classic and modern R&B.
Can you play by ear or are you a music theory kind of person?
I definitely started out with theory then things really come into play when I started to branch out and meet other musicians. Quarantine kind of helped me when it came to understanding numbers and learning more about theory.
How would you say your style has evolved over the years?
When I first started, I was definitely more into traditional blues because that was my foundation. As I got older I kind of opened my ears to what predates the blues and country-style blues. So now, I’m trying to infuse all of that and make what it means to be ‘Kingfish.’
What was sharing the stage with Bootsy Collins like?
I did a song with Mr. Collins and it was great! We did a song together called “Creepin’” and that was my first introduction into the punk rock space, so that was amazing.
Who else have you gotten to share the stage with?
One name in particular, Mr. Buddy Guy, was one of the driving forces that we have behind the first record. And then I played with Keb’ Mo,’ Robert Randolph, and I got to share the stage with Brad Whitford of Aerosmith. The first record opened a whole lot of doors for me, leading to collaborations with other big-name artists.
What’s your favorite part about getting on stage?
My favorite part I would say is the rush of getting on the stage itself. You hear the crowd screaming and I just rock out the whole show, it’s a really beautiful thing.
Have you heard any of your songs on the radio yet?
Funny story, actually. I was just sitting there eating lunch and a song from my first record came over the speaker and it was really cool, you know? It was kind of surreal to hear my own music on the radio for the first time.
Can you tell us about your custom guitars?
The two main guitars that I’m using at the moment are a Fender Boxer Tele that was made in Japan that I’ve modified with my own pickups. I also have a custom Les Paul. I play a couple of other custom guitars that were built for me by Chuck Conrad and right now I’m actually in the Taylor acoustic guitar space, too.
How do you see your music progressing from here?
A lot of folks that have heard my singing voice have told me I have a voice for music derived from the blues, not rasta per se, but soul and R&B. I want to do more things in that arena while keeping it rooted in blues.
What does your future look like from here? Any new music in the works?
I’m always working on new music and looking into doing tours and shows. I’m going to start opening up for other artists like Brittany Smith and Maggie Rose so I’m definitely looking forward to that for sure.
Don’t miss this video below……..
The debut Kingfish album
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at end of the article.