Echoing Springsteen’s clarion call — “We’re all prisoners of rock and roll, and we’ve been sentenced to life” — Blues Rocker Solomon King Heads Back onto the Road
For about one minute, renowned singer/songwriter Solomon King was recently wondering if he should hang up the blues-rock and segue into something else. King had assumed his present stage persona about ten years ago, saying goodbye to his Jeff Laine solo career, and embarking on a musical journey that earned his debut blues album, “Under the Sun,” some Grammy heat. Traveling across America and to Hawaii and then Australia, Solomon King & The Chosen played and recorded with a host of the finest blues players in the business.
In the process, he released several records including “Under The Sun. Medicine,” “Train,” “Against the Current” — covering a variety of sounds from blues-rock to Americana, country and hard rock.
However King was going through what all us artists undergo, asking, What next? But two recent performances have reinvigorated him, and he’s admitting, like Springsteen, he’s a prisoner of making music that impacts people, that makes you dance, sing, smile and make love.
First, he did a solo performance at an Indie Collaborative event at the Phoenix Theater in San Francisco. He played just one song, digging deep into his extensive music catalog to bring up “All the Way Down” and he stunned his musical and artistic peers into silence before they broke out in applause. He recalls:
“I chose it because it’s a really evocative song that would affect the audience. It was written when I was a street singer on the Venice Boardwalk, working for tips, and it was about the lowest point in my life after being dropped by a major label, and after the ‘devil’ called Johnny, who I perhaps mistakenly chose not to meet, did his thing. But I played this song again for the Indie Collaborative and both myself and the song seemed to take on a new life — just like the mythical Phoenix, the name of the venue.”
“I went down to the Boardwalk with my suitcase open/With the jugglers and the acrobats/I heard the words of Jesus Christ spoken/A girl in a leopard skin leotard gypsy tattooed on her arm/Looks at me long and hard. she said, ‘I’m the one who owns this town, the sun the sea and the ground/Who are you to be here hanging around?/This ain’t no underground, this is all the way down.” — Lyrics to All The Way Down by Solomon King
The second life-changing performance was at Maui Sugar Mill in Tarzana, where live music acts regularly bring the house down. But Solomon King, wondering if this might be the last go-around, pulled out all the stops, kicking off his rapturous set with a foot-stomping version of “Jack Me Up.” His guitar playing was venomous. He bared his soul and sang from the heart. And, his band, The Chosen, were extra tight.
New fans said his band just “nailed it,” that he was “engaging” and just “reached out grabbed us.” And, afterwards, another fan observantly noted:
“You may never make it huge or have all the acclaim that performers seek. But it’s not just about that, man. It’s about you absolutely crushing it from our viewpoint. So, it’s not what you get out of it, but it’s about us, the audience, how we responded, how it impacted us. What you gave us is what’s important. We need what you do.”
The excited response and that eye-opening comment has inspired King who now looks forward to booking more gigs and getting back out on the road, explaining:
“I’m feeling the call to continue doing this and it’s not about what I get out of it. Even though if we’re honest, we all want acclaim and the feeling of being loved in the moment is great. Those two performances reminded me that music is about the audience, it’s really about them. That’s why Springsteen connects, he realizes we’re in this music together. For me, I’ve just started giving it everything I have. And if I die here right now, well, it’s the best I have to offer and I’m going for it now. So, I’m heading back on the road to bring heartfelt, vulnerable but powerful music to audiences out there. Because as Bruce Springsteen suggested, we’re all in this together, prisoners to music for life.”
Up next, Solomon King & The Chosen (featuring Bobby Carradine), will perform “All the Way Down,” an acoustic set on October 5 at Lethal Amounts Gallery in Los Angeles. The evening will see the launch of Justice Howard’s “Voodoo” — a gloriously illustrated book by world-renowned photographer Justice Howard with writings by Voodoo Queen, Bloody Mary. This splendid book offers to “peer behind the curtain and journey into Voodoo’s hidden world.”