marcus king

Dave Roe in the studio.

Photo courtesy of Dave Roe

The death of Nashville’s Dave Roe is a reminder of the important connections we can make within the music we love, right where we live.

Last month the sound of hearts breaking reverberated across Nashville—from corporate offices to studios to indie venues—as word spread of the death of Dave Roe. Dave, who was featured on PGs September cover, was an extraordinary artist, loved for his playing and his personality. He could be endearingly grumpy, but also had a marvelous sense of humor. And his generosity and welcoming nature were almost as well-known throughout Music City as his live and studio performances with Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakam, Loretta Lynn, Carrie Underwood, Tony Joe White, Early James, Bonnie Prince Billy, Marcus King, T Bone Burnett, Brandy Clark, Dan Auerbach, Chrissie Hynde, Sturgill Simpson, CeeLo Green, Brian Setzer, Faith Hill, John Mellencamp, Kurt Vile, Bahamas, and so many others. As we said on our cover: “You don't know Dave Roe, but you’ve heard him play.”

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Crank up this fuzz-blues stomper and read about King's collaboration with producer Dan Auerbach.

Nashville, TN (October 10, 2019) -- Marcus King today announced the release of his genre-bending debut solo record, El Dorado - produced by Grammy Award winner Dan Auerbach and released on Jan 17, 2020 on Fantasy Records. Already a 23-year-old guitar phenomenon El Dorado will further establish Marcus as an innovative songwriter and one of the most soulful voices of his generation. Following numerous sold out headline shows and triumphant festival performances with The Marcus King Band, Marcus recently announced a 32-date winter tour in support of his new record.

El Dorado is a contemporary sonic exploration of classic rock, blues, southern R&B and country-soul where subtle acoustics and pedal steel shines bright alongside raucous electric guitars and blistering solos. Following their previous collaboration on song “How Long,” King and Auerbach co-wrote twelve songs for El Dorado in only three days in his Easy Eye Sound studio.

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Jimmy “Duck” Holmes sits on the front porch of his juke joint, the Blue Front Café, with his Epiphone Masterbilt. His parents opened the Blue Front in 1948. Holmes is typically here to greet visitors by 7 a.m. each day.

The 72-year-old Delta bluesman’s Auerbach-produced Cypress Grove captures the raucous sounds of the juke joint.

Bluesman Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is an American treasure. The 72-year-old is the foremost torchbearer of a deep and esoteric style of Mississippi Delta music associated with the town where he has spent his entire life: rural Bentonia. He’s also the proprietor of the nation’s longest operating juke joint, the Blue Front Café, which his parents established there in 1948. Holmes learned the Bentonia blues style at the side of its originators, including Henry Stuckey and the more famous Skip James, who had a renaissance during the ’60s folk blues revival. Every year in June, Holmes celebrates the music that’s in his DNA by hosting the Bentonia Blues Festival on his family’s farm.

“Jimmy’s music is rough and tumble, and it can shatter a lot of preconceptions purists have about Delta blues.”–Dan Auerbach

But there’s a less formal celebration every weekend, when the Blue Front stays open late, cold beer flows like rain, and the music gets loud, raucous, and unpredictable. That’s the spirit that producer Dan Auerbach has captured on Holmes’ new album, Cypress Grove.

The song we’re premiering, “All Night Long,” is a robust, free-ranging original built along the thorny backbone of Holmes’ guitar, with interjections by Auerbach, adding fills and commentary, and an essay on hot-butter slide by Marcus King. The album is packed with 6-string highlights, built around Holmes’ rusty freight-train rhythms and tonal surprises, like the feedback drone Auerbach makes sing like an Indian tanpura on the title track.

In Nashville’s Easy Eye Sound studio, Auerbach and Holmes run through the bones of one of Holmes’ durable culled-from-life numbers before showing it to the studio band and firing up the tape recorder.

Just because the album was recorded at Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville doesn’t mean it’s not authentic down-home Mississippi blues. The Black Keys’ frontman explains his modus operandi: “I like to work with people who inspire me, and Jimmy inspires me. Jimmy’s music is rough and tumble, and it can shatter a lot of preconceptions purists have about Delta blues. At the Blue Front, you never know who’s going to show up, or what instrument they’ll be playing. There could be three guitars, bass, drums, mandolin, and fiddle one weekend, and then the next weekend a banjo player or a saxophonist shows up. So the sound always reflects the ages and experiences and styles of the musicians who are there, and that keeps it fresh, modern, and totally unpredictable.”

In addition to Dan Auerbach and Marcus King, Holmes’ new album includes contributions from Mississippi blues bass MVP Eric Deaton and drummer Sam Bacco, who is a percussionist in the Nashville Symphony.

If you’d like to know more about Bentonia blues and Jimmy “Duck Holmes,” check out our interview with him from September 2016. And you can also dig into Ryan Lee Crosby’s Bentonia Blues lesson from September 2019.

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