Q&A with guitar virtuoso Johnny King, his music ranges from Blues, Roots, Rock, Reggae, and Southern Rock

"Staying humble and don't go around with a big ego/chip on your shoulder. Always try to listen to everyone; be diverse in your music and be open minded."

Johnny King: Baptism of Sound

Johnny King is a guitar virtuoso! He is also a producer, singer, songwriter, actor, author, music instructor, and lively performer. For over twenty-five years, he has been writing and performing his own music. He plays slide, lead, and rhythm guitar like lightning in a bottle. His other instruments include: drums, five-string bass, Hammond organ, keys, mandolin, and trumpet. Johnny King's music ranges from Blues, Roots, Rock, Reggae, Bluegrass, Country, Motown, Gospel, Funk, Latin, Ragtime, New Orleans jazz, and Psychedelic Southern Rock. He calls it the "Baptism of Sound!". Johnny began by learning the drums in his father's band Hot Rod Lincoln at the age of fifteen in Virginia. By the time he was eighteen, he had sat in with Teddy Washington, who played trumpet for James Brown. On Easter Sunday, 1996, Matt Lawson, Pete Skenesky, and Johnny King recorded an impromptu original music session at David Plummer's Cypress Recording Studios in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. This marked the beginning of his professional original recording music career. In 1997, Johnny started performing as a solo artist where he first coined the name "Boxrockers" after his 1965 Gibson guitar.

He then collaborated with Dave Hendershot from the Glass Camels  in 1998, and named Live Roots, an original jam band that opened and toured regionally with acts such as Derek Trucks Band, Keller Williams, Blueground Undergrass, and Donna the Buffalo. Johnny King produced his first album with Grammy Award winners Buddy Miles and Vassar Clements, locking in history the first and only time these performers recorded original music together. Kofi Burbridge has also since earned a Grammy as the keyboardist and  flutist for the world-renowned: Derek Trucks Band and Tedeschi Trucks Band. Johnny King & Friends' new blues album release in March 2023, titled "Call it Confusion" ... and Making Music History Once Again!!!

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues, Reggae, Rock music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

The music has influenced my cooking. Through my travels and performing in different places, I've learned a lot of the different cuisines and different styles of cooking. The different kinds of music and culture out there has influenced my writings. Most of all, this music has influenced my faith.

What characterize your music philosophy and Baptism of Sound"? Where does your creative drive come from?

When the music hits you, it's like you've been bathed in sound. It's like you've somehow been washed in frequency and vibration. Both the audience and us as musicians feel it onstage at every show. My creative drive comes from the Holy Spirit.

What moment changed your life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far? 

When I dedicated my life to Jesus Christ. Highlights include playing with Edward Waters College (oldest all-black college in the nation) in Jacksonville, FL for Ray Charles before his final homecoming performance. Touring with Buddy Miles in FL (2004) and touring with Toots & the Maytals in 2010. Recording with Grammy Award Winners Buddy Miles, Bobby Rush, Tony Coleman, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, George Porter, Jr., Vassar Clements, and Kofi Burbridge.                                       (Photo: Johnny King)

"The music has influenced my cooking. Through my travels and performing in different places, I've learned a lot of the different cuisines and different styles of cooking. The different kinds of music and culture out there has influenced my writings. Most of all, this music has influenced my faith."

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

The way that we record things these days doesn't have the warmth of the old analog 2" tapes and tube amps. The old sound produced deeper, richer tones. I hope they will integrate the old with the new, like I have done, more often. I fear that there is too much synthetic sampling rather than actual people playing instruments. I fear that there's not enough funding for music in the public school systems to encourage young people to carry on the torch.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

It's a direct impact. Every season we have new artists releasing new material all the time.  It's ever-evolving. I want to be enlightened and inspired by it and receive the baptism of sound.

What's the balance in music between technique skills and soul/emotions? What touched you from the slide guitar?

You have to be warmed up technically to deliver the human emotions that convert into notes. You have to have a certain calliber of musicianship to freely make it talk, laugh, cry, sing. It takes years of experience to get there.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Staying humble and don't go around with a big ego/chip on your shoulder. Always try to listen to everyone; be diverse in your music and be open minded.

"When the music hits you, it's like you've been bathed in sound. It's like you've somehow been washed in frequency and vibration. Both the audience and us as musicians feel it onstage at every show. My creative drive comes from the Holy Spirit."

(Photo: Johnny King)

Do you think there is an audience for jazz music in its current state? or at least a potential for young people to become future audiences and fans?

Yes, there always will be. Jazz is ever-evolving too. I intend to come out with an original jazz record of my own on the horizon. Hopefully I can help to reinvigorate a resurgence of jazz. The young people can also embrace my new book due out soon on a new music theory that I call "The Hidden Key Code" that should help with a new genuine interest into jazz.

Johnny King & Friends - Home

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