20-year-old blues firebrand comes bursting out of Clarksdale, Mississippi, with a sensational debut packed with piercing guitar, husky, impassioned singing and potent songwriting. Kingfish reinvigorates the blues with Ingram’s infectious, youthful fire. Buddy Guy, Keb' Mo' and Billy Branch guest. "One of the most exciting young guitarists in years, with a sound that encompasses B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix and Prince." —Rolling Stone
Produced by Tom Hambridge Recorded at Ocean Way Studios, Nashville TN Engineered by Zach Allen Assistant Engineer: Austin Atwood Mixe...
Produced by Tom Hambridge Recorded at Ocean Way Studios, Nashville TN Engineered by Zach Allen Assistant Engineer: Austin Atwood Mixed and Mastered by Tom Hambridge and Michael Saint-Leon at Switchyard Studio, Nashville, TN
Outside Of This Town Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Guitar and Vocals Tom Hambridge: Drums and Background Vocals Rob McNelley: Guitar Tommy MacDonald: Bass
Fresh Out (Featuring Buddy Guy) Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Guitar (First Solo) and Vocals Buddy Guy: Guitar (Second Solo) and Vocals Tom Hambridge: Drums Keb' Mo': Guitar Rob McNelley: Guitar Marty Sammon: Piano Tommy MacDonald: Bass
It Ain't Right Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Guitar and Vocals Tom Hambridge: Drums Tommy MacDonald: Bass
Been Here Before Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Acoustic Guitar and Vocals Tom Hambridge: Percussion Tommy MacDonald: Bass Marty Sammon: Piano
If You Love Me Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Guitar and Vocals Billy Branch: Harmonica Keb' Mo': Guitar Rob McNelley: Guitar Tommy MacDonald: Bass Chris Black: Drums
Love Ain't My Favorite Word Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Guitar and Vocals Tom Hambridge: Drums Tommy MacDonald: Bass Marty Sammon: Hammond B3 Organ
Listen (Featuring Keb' Mo') Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Guitar and Vocals Keb' Mo': Acoustic Guitar and Vocals Tom Hambridge: Drums and Tambourine Rob McNelley: Guitar Marty Sammon: Hammond B3 Organ Tommy MacDonald: Bass
Before I'm Old Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Guitar and Vocals Tom Hambridge: Drums Keb' Mo': Guitar Rob McNelley: Guitar Marty Sammon: Hammond B3 Organ Tommy MacDonald: Bass
Believe These Blues Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Guitar and Vocals Tom Hambridge: Drums Keb' Mo': Guitar Rob McNelley: Guitar Tommy MacDonald: Bass
Trouble Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Guitar and Vocals Tom Hambridge: Drums and Percussion Tommy MacDonald: Bass Marty Sammon: Piano
Hard Times Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Vocals Keb' Mo': Resonator Guitar
That's Fine By Me Christone "Kingfish" Ingram: Guitar and Vocals Tom Hambridge: Drums Tommy MacDonald: Bass Marty Sammon: Piano
Christone Ingram would like to thank: Thanks and praises to God. Huge "Thank You" to Mom, Princess Pride, and Dad, Christopher Ingram, for all of your love, support and sacrifice…and for buying me my first guitar. Thank you to all of my family and to Richard "Daddy Rich" Crisman, Bill "Howl-N-Madd" Perry, Anthony "Big A" Sherrod and my Delta Blues Museum family. To my wonderful team, Ric Whitney and Brent Canter, thank y'all for believing in me. Thank you, Mr. Buddy Guy, Tom Hambridge and Alligator Records for the support and for this opportunity. To all of my big homies in the business who always motivate me and give me so much advice…thank you! Also a big shout-out to Ernie Ball Strings, Peavey Amps, Jim Dunlop Products (RIP), Fender, Chertoff Custom Guitars, Xotic Effects, Keeley Effects, Reunion Blues Gig Bags, and Pig Hog Cables…thank you for helping me sound and look good. And finally, thank you to all of the loyal fans who have stuck with me all these years…it's been a great journey and it's been something that I would not trade for the world. — Kingfish
Tom Hambridge would like to thank DW Drums, Zildjian Cymbals & Regal Tip Drumsticks for their continued support. www.tomhambridge.com
When he was a little kid in Clarksdale, Mississippi, just ten miles from the legendary crossroads of Highways 61 and 49, Christone Ingram would stand up in front of his family with a guitar around his neck. He would preach like the ministers he'd seen in church and sing like the blues musicians he'd heard next door. He couldn't actually play the guitar at four years old, but he could already carry himself with the pacing and dignity of an older man. "He's an old soul," his grandmother marveled. "He's been here before."
"Sometimes I feel like that," Ingram says today, "because the things I think don't come from a normal young person. I see things from a different perspective than most young kids. That most definitely drew me to the blues. You don't see a lot of young black kids who have my feeling for the blues."
His debut album, Kingfish, is titled after his childhood nickname, and the music on the recording proves that the 20-year-old Christone "Kingfish" Ingram is still an old soul. Whether he's singing about his grandma's comment on "Been Here Before" or about his ambition to succeed "Outside of This Town," Kingfish sings and plays guitar with the gravity and skill of a much more experienced musician. That sensibility, combined with the perspective of a 21st-century childhood, makes him a potential leader for the blues of the future.
He's already impressed Buddy Guy, who has said, "Kingfish is the next explosion of the blues." The two guitarists first played together at the 2015 Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Oregon. Tom Hambridge, Guy's producer and songwriting partner, was playing drums that day, and he remembers Kingfish handling himself with surprising maturity in a stressful situation: playing with your longtime hero in front of a large crowd that doesn't know who you are.
"A lot of young guitar players lean toward overplaying a bit," Hambridge points out, "as if they have to pull out everything they have in the toolkit—and pretty soon they're out of tools. I appreciate players who are more economical with their notes, and make sure the notes mean something. Usually you don't see that in players until they get older, but Christone had that already."
Guy, a noted supporter of young blues talent, was so knocked out that he volunteered to finance some sessions for Kingfish at Hambridge's home studio in Nashville. Ingram brought in some songs he'd started; Hambridge brought in some he'd started, and together they finished seven songs. Ingram had one of his own; Hambridge added four that he had written with Richard Fleming with Kingfish in mind.
Guy had considered recording "Fresh Out," a midtempo blues lamenting that the singer's fresh out of love like his refrigerator is fresh out of milk, but Hambridge talked Guy into letting Kingfish have the song. But Guy got to sing on it anyway, taking the third verse and adding his own guitar solo. Keb' Mo' does something similar on the laid-back country blues, "Hard Times." Keb' Mo', who had befriended Kingfish on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, stuck around and played second guitar on six songs in all.
It's a sign of Kingfish's "old soul" that he insists on playing the older, acoustic styles of the blues as well as heavily amplified contemporary blues. "We're all modern," he says, "but we want to keep the roots alive. I went beyond what they taught us in class to search YouTube for the older guys. That's how I came across Son House, Charley Patton, Skip James, all those guys. They're as much a part of my music as Muddy, Wolf and Buddy. I'm just starting to add the acoustic guitar into my shows."
The "class" he refers to was the music education program at Clarksdale's Delta Blues Museum. Ingram started out on drums at age six, moved to bass at age eight, and finally picked up the guitar at 14. He progressed so rapidly that one of his teachers, local bluesman Bill "Howl-N-Madd" Perry gave him his nickname. Now everyone calls Ingram "Kingfish."
"The 'King' part of the name reminds me of Albert, Freddie and B.B.," says Ingram. "The 'fish' part reminds me of Muddy. Some people have trouble with my first name, so they just call me Kingfish."
His love of the blues made him something of an outsider at school, where hip-hop is most students' favorite music. Ingram likes hip-hop too, especially West Coast '90s rap, but the blues tap into something deeper within him. "I had people at school making fun, saying, 'Why do you play that old music?'" Kingfish recalls. "I said, 'That's my preference. You like Lil' Wayne, and I like Albert King.' I like Lil' Wayne too, but blues was my go-to genre. There's nothing wrong with getting black and blue. But we've also incorporated some modern sounds to attract the kids. We can draw them in with rock, funk and hip-hop and bring them to the pure stuff."
He clearly has a new kind of blues fusion in mind. Two highlights of Kingfish's live show are his Mississippi blues takes on Prince's "Purple Rain" and Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe." Ingram has been a guest on "My Favorite Riff with Nikki Sixx," the on-line show hosted by the Motley Crue bassist, and has collaborated with rap legend Rakim for a "Tiny Desk Concert" on NPR. He speaks of someday creating new music with artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Thundercat.
Ingram's "old-soul" tastes and his larger-than-life size often made the local social scene a challenge. But Kingfish refused to let Clarksdale limit his ambitions. He started traveling to blues festivals while he was still in high school, and you can hear that hunger for new discoveries and new acceptance in his music.
"Clarksdale is full of talented people," he says, "but so many people are scared to take that leap of faith and leave. They're so used to being in the place where they've grown up. I didn't want to be one of those people who never left and 50 years later says, 'I used to be this and I used to do that.' There's so much out there that we need to see, but some people just don't know that. I felt like my music could get me there. Traveling made me go deeper. I found all these different cultures I could get into; it's great being around diverse people."
"Kingfish and Buddy are both old souls," Hambridge says. "They take their time; they love the blues. They're economical with their words. They're confident but not braggadocious. Christone is real and authentic. He's from the Delta, so he's got that in his soul." —Geoffrey Himes
Geoffrey Himes has written about music for the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Paste and other publications since 1977. His songs have been recorded by The Kinsey Report, Billy Kemp and others.