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Live At The Linda: "Shades of Blue"

Chris Thomas King
Chris Thomas King
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Each Wednesday and Sunday evening at 8 p.m. “Live At The Linda” brings you some of the best musical acts to grace the stage at The Linda - WAMC's Performing Arts Studio. This week we showcase The Linda’s many “shades of blue,” with blues artists James Armstrong, Shawn Holt, and Chris Thomas King. We also check in with John McEuen, who will be taking the Linda stage on February 27th.

Born into a musical family in 1957 in Los Angeles, James Armstrong had blues music in his blood from the very start. His Mom was a blues singer, his Dad played jazz guitar. Armstrong formed his first band in the 7th grade, and by age 17 he was touring the country. James would start making waves on the local California blues circuit by his 20s, becoming the youngest member of Smokey Wilson’s band. In the 1980s, James was a founding member of the band Mama Roo and received his first recording contract for Crescendo Records.

In the early 90s, James got plenty of exposure from his musical influences, including Albert Collins, and Sam Taylor. Shortly after that, he was discovered and signed by HighTone Records owner Bruce Bromberg, who had discovered and signed Robert Cray and Joe Louis Walker.

Armstrong was about to tour with his critically acclaimed first album, “Sleeping with a Stranger,” when tragedy struck. The events surrounding a home invasion left Armstrong without the use of his left hand and arm. Thanks to the support of friends, fans and the blues community, Armstrong came back two years later with a second album, “Dark Night.” What Armstrong lost in the tragedy he gained in “a whole new respect for the music itself, the power in slow blues, how the silences between the notes are as important as the notes.” Armstrong also turned his efforts to perfecting his songwriting, vocal and slide guitar skills, all the while developing his gift for turning hardship into song. The results were a third album, “Got It Goin’ On.” The CD garnered two Blues Music Award nominations for “best blues guitarist” and for “best song of the year” with “Pennies and Picks.” From November 2019, here’s James Armstrong live at The Linda

Shawn Holt is the son of blues legend Magic Slim. The high energy, hard-driving sound of The Teardrops is still alive and well and if you like what Magic Slim and The Teardrops have been doing for the last 35 years, you can continue to enjoy that unique sound and energy with Shawn Holt, a chip off the old block, fronting his dad’s band. Shawn started playing the blues at the age of 17, when he went on the road with this father and Slim’s brother, Uncle Nick Holt and The Teardrops. Shortly after that tour with his father, Shawn realized his genetic destiny (all the Holt’s are talented musicians) and formed his own band. He has been watching, learning and playing blues ever since. This set was recorded at our studio on October 2018, this is Shawn Holt & the Teardrops live at the Linda.

Initially known for his audacious fusion of blues and hip-hop, Chris Thomas King reached a whole new audience with the Coen Brothers film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” not only appearing on the award-winning soundtrack but playing a prominent supporting character as well. Despite the much-celebrated, down-to-earth rootsiness of O Brother's music, King had previously been a determined progressive, hoping to reinvigorate the blues as a living African American art with a more contemporary approach and adamantly refusing to treat it as a museum piece whose "authentic" forms needed careful preservation. King eventually modified that approach to a certain degree, attempting to create a more explicit link between blues tradition and the general musical present. Let’s take a listen to Chris Thomas King, from December 2014 live at the Linda.

Thanks for listening to “Live At The Linda,” recorded live at The Linda: WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio. Tune in next week for our broadcast of "Dynamic Duos," with Jocelyn and Chris Arndt, The Cactus Blossoms, and Charlie Hunter and Lucy Woodward.

For more information on this show or any upcoming events follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or visit thelinda.org.

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