THE MARCUS KING BAND FAMILY REUNION
October 6-7, 2017
Pisgah Brewing Company
Black Mountain, NC
8 a.m. EST isn’t the typical time you interview a touring musician, but with The Marcus King Band playing a string of dates in Europe it was high noon for them. The last two years have taken the band all around the world, from Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, all over the US and Canada, and twice to Europe this year alone. To say it’s been a hectic year for Marcus King and his eponymous band is an understatement, and that’s what makes the two night The Marcus King Band Family Reunion shows all the sweeter. They’re finally home for a bit.
“A lot of my family is from the Blue Ridge Mountain area; that’s kind of where my roots are.” said King. “That’s the big reason why we’re having the festival up there, we are doing it in Black Mountain right at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. That’s why it’s important for me to be in that region.”
Being on the road non-stop playing festivals with a wide variety of artists from Chris Stapleton to Bjork is the dream come true for a band already beyond their years, but it has its drawbacks too. King mentions how they’ve missed a lot of family reunions, a lot of birthdays, and a whole lot of family events. That goes not just for him, but the rest of the band who are all also from surrounding areas in the Upstate, Columbia, and Asheville. Friday and Saturday night bring those families together, both blood and musical.
“I went to Dave Shaw’s Big River Get Down and I saw what he was doing in his hometown and it’s beautiful and it’s benefitting his hometown and his people and having a good time doing it. And I saw that and thought it would be a great idea for us to do it, and the idea was kind of spawned to bring people that we consider to be like family members of ours that we have met along the way on the road, and also bring all our actually family together. So we can all break bread and have a good time together”
With the festival in its first year a lot of planning went in to making it right, and King found the time to have a big hand in that himself. It does after-all have his name on it. With the help of their production manger and North Carolina native Dave Cannon they worked hard to curate a stacked lineup and to make sure the festival runs smoothly.
Speaking about the festival you can hear the excitement and genuine emotion in Kings voice. “It’s really special and close to the heart, this is my baby and I’m really excited for the first year. And everyone has come down to be apart of it and spend time with us it’s just going to be about love and having a good time. We’re all making sure we have the proper steps taken care of before hand and all the proper hands so when we’re there we can focus the actual idea of it, which is the love and the energy we are all sharing.”
Being from South Carolina it makes sense if you run into The Marcus King Band, or hear them mentioned often, but sometimes it goes beyond that. A couple of months ago I was browsing through magazines at the library and there he was, King sitting and grinning with his Gibson Hollowbody on the front of Guitar Player magazine with the title ‘Youthquake’ written in all caps across the middle. Before that I turned on the TV one random Saturday morning and caught them playing on the CBS Saturday Morning show. And then there was SouthSounds music festival where they were the finale act of the three-day festival in Mobile, AL. The festival was filled with South Carolina acts and the city was buzzing with their name. Every conversation seemed to be about The Marcus King Band and their meteoric rise.
King points out that their music is a melting pot of styles that really brings people together and gets them talking, word of mouth has helped them out a lot along the way. Several times King referenced the journey that their on.
“You know it’s kind of played out thing to say, but the journey we all take together it’s something that people can kind of latch onto and ride a lot with us instead of just watching us.”
The journey will be a long one, and now they’re just getting it started. November and December will be the first time they’ve taken off in a long time, and that will finally give them a chance to reflect on just how far they’ve come, and where they’re headed. They already have international dates in France and Mexico booked for 2018. For the past two years they’ve focused on trying to play better than they played the day before. That’s a tall task, but something they’ve proven they’re capable of as they’re becoming one of the best soulful guitar driven bands in the country. Where does the road lead them?
“Man, I’m still looking, it’s a never-ending journey. Gregg Allman said it best “the road goes on forever.” I think the most important thing to be is realizing the journey is the destination in a sense. If I really every get where I’m going I’d be bored as hell, I would have nothing else to do.” says King as his voice trails off with laughter at the thought of boredom.
Earlier this year Shovels & Rope hosted the inaugural Highwater Music Festival in their hometown of Charleston, similar in some ways to what King is doing in the foothills and his neck of the woods. The ethos is the same, to share the stage with friends, bring family along, and give back to the community the best they can. It’s a circular system that keeps everyone connected in a deep way. Sometimes when things get hard, it’s the music that holds us all together.
King says it best. “We’re just trying to bring some solidarity around in a really kind of fucked up world.”