Little Freddie King was the most nattily dressed performer I saw at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival last year. No one else even came close. But his music was as rough and gritty as his suit was slick.
His latest album, “Chasin’ Tha Blues,” is gut-wrenchingly good, too. That’s clear from the opening notes of the first tune, “Born Dead.” On many of the tunes such as “Got the Blues on My Back,” King uses his guitar to carve a rough swath for his deep vocals through the pains of a tough childhood in the Mississippi Delta. His guitar licks are even tougher on a couple of instrumentals, “Bywater Crawl” and “Night Time in Treme,” a couple of instrumentals. I miss his vocals on those tunes, but they’re a clear reminder why I loved his set so much last year — at 71, he’s still one of the most dynamic blues guitarists around.
And you can bet I’ll be up front for his set this year just to hear him play and sing “Standin’ at Yo Door,” one of my favorite blues tracks released in recent memory. Besides, I can’t wait to see what he’s wearing.