Despite the fact that this show was performed a while ago, I still wanted to cover and touch on The Marcus King Band’s performance at Go Outside Festival in Roanoke, Virginia. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that MKB would be headlining the free outdoor festival right here in Virginia and having just had my mind blown from the MKB Family Reunion and still reeling from all the amazing music, I had to make the journey and check MKB out, again. I took some friends and MKB first timers; they were just as impressed and blown away by the versatility and musicianship of this band.
Having seen MKB six previous times this year, I have become fairly familiar with their catalog and compositional structures but MKB kept me on my toes all night; while I pulled out my hair in amazement, wide eyed with bewilderment, as this band turned everything on its head. Playing a fairly routine set list, MKB transformed many of these original songs including: 'Virginia' 'Sherry Berry' and 'Rita Is Gone,' into something new; adding many teases from Santana's 'Soul Sacrifice' to ABB 'Mountain Jam' and of course, the '25 or 6 to 4' breakdown from Chicago in 'Sherry Berry.' MKB seamlessly mixes these riffs and developments into their original Jams and songs, masterfully creating new sonic arrangements. Marcus is the consummate bandleader, calling out key changes and using visual and vocal cues to lead and conduct his band to his every whim. This level of band leading is difficult, like herding wild buffalo into a narrow pen but Marcus does it with style and intent; the Young Lion ready to roar and seize every opportunity.
This set would introduce a new instrumental that was extremely funky, yet added elements of Soul, Gospel and classic Motown transitions. The encore of the evening seemed to go on and on, everyone taking turns soloing and improvising. Standout solos from Justin Johnson/Trumpet and Dean Mitchell/Sax, and of course, DeShawn (Dvibes) on keys. Stephen Campbell is a solid bass player and Jack Ryan has been making a name for himself as of late, becoming a well-known drummer in the scene and leading his own band at the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam this coming month in Asheville, NC. I look for all the members of MKB to succeed in their endeavors, separately and together. While, my mind was still on the amazing sit-ins and performances at MKB Family Reunion Festival, this show stopped me in my tracks and was by far the best MKB performance I have seen all year. They were tight, solid and on-point. Marcus led his band to the far reaches of improvisation and then back again, never stopping until the very last moment. Intent and driven, this band hasn’t even reached its potential yet and it’s clear from this performance that they are beyond anything out there in this scene today.
I would like to take this time to thank everyone who made my recent MKB Family Reunion Festival the most successful review ever from Jam Band Purist with over 1,000 views in just two days! Thanks to MKB Lions Den for spreading the word and all of MKB’s advocates, including his amazing family, you know who you are! I am looking forward to possibly covering NYE in Baltimore and can't wait to get a copy of "Due North" on vinyl! Keep yours ears open.
Long Live MKB,
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.