Marcus King is a 25-year-old master musician whose old-soul vocals and bold guitar playing have put him firmly on the path toward greatness. Nashville-based but Greenville-raised, King’s sound is an amalgamation of Southern rock, blues, gospel, country and ragtime.
King credits having been raised in South Carolina with setting him up for success.
“There must be something in the water in the Upstate, or maybe it’s in all that mustard barbecue sauce,” he told the City Paper. “Whatever it is, that environment seems to have had the same impact on me as it did on the Marshall Tucker Band, all the great Piedmont blues acts, and even Gram Parsons, who lived in Greenville for a brief period during the 1960s. I’m proud to come from that region and to be a part of such a rich tradition.”
For nearly a decade now, King has been relentless in building his fanbase and ensuring a legacy of his own through his strong presence on stage and on vinyl as both a solo artist and frontman for the Marcus King Band.
Partnering with different producers has certainly helped King to achieve his multi-faceted, forward-looking vision along the way. Early on, he collaborated with Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, and recently, the direction of his 2020 solo LP, El Dorado, was mapped out by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
“I had primarily known Dan as a performer and as a friend, but once I moved to Nashville, I thought it would be great to get to experience how he works as a producer. His approach is hands-on, but at the same time it’s not overbearing,” King said. “To me, Dan is like the captain of an old warship. He always knows where we are going, and he gives clear instructions for how to get there. But he also allows you to be spontaneous and creative throughout the journey.”
El Dorado, which contains such standout tracks as “Wildflowers and Wine,” “One Day She’s Here” and “Too Much Whiskey,” revealed King’s talent as a songwriter and brought him one step closer to becoming a household name, earning a Grammy Award nomination for Best Americana Album.
He’s not slowing down, but King is hesitant to say precisely what comes next. He’s been busy prepping multiple solo records for release in the coming year. There’s also a chance of a joint effort with fellow Nashville musician Billy Strings.
“We are both very open to the idea of making music together—we just need the stars to align so that we can get it scheduled,” he said.
In light of all the recent restrictions associated with the pandemic, for now at least, King said that he is just happy to be able to put the band back together for a nationwide tour and to once again play the music he loves with the people he likes most.
Fortunately, that endeavor will land The Marcus King Band back in town for two distinct performances at the Charleston Music Hall, Sept. 27 and 28. According to King, his plan for the first evening is to feature a three-piece configuration, and for the second night to play a more raucous set with the full ensemble.