The Festival is thrilled to welcome back to Waterfront Park the young Mississippi bluesman Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, who will be celebrating not only the Festival’s 30th Anniversary, but also his own recent graduation from highschool!
This will be Christone’s third visit to Waterfront. His first outing, for those of you who missed it during that record-breaking heat wave that hit us in 2015, proved one of the most stunning debuts ever seen at Waterfront Blues Festival, as the young guitar shredder all but stole the show on a lineup that included such legends as Gregg Allman and Buddy Guy.
The 18-year-old from Friar’s Point, Mississippi is already a phenom in the blues guitar world. In the past three years CHRISTONE has played the Whitehouse for Michelle and Barak Obama; completed several tours of Europe which included major Parisian theatres; appeared on the Rachel Ray and Steve Harvey TV shows; debuted at a number of prestigious festivals and venues across the South and East; and has seen one video clip of his mind-blowing guitar chops go viral—boasting, at last count, some 250,000 shares on facebook and nearly 10 million views on youtube.
Though still in his teens, KINGFISH’S success is hardly the ‘overnight’ variety. Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1999, to Princess Pride Ingram and Christopher Ingram, Kingfish was exposed to the rich Gospel music emanating from his family’s church, as well as the blues he heard performed by such acclaimed Delta bluesmen as Big Jack Johnson and Michael Burks. A cousin to legendary Country music singer, Charlie Pride, Kingfish was a natural sponge for all these musical influences.
At age 5, he began to play the drums, three years later, took up the bass, and by 11, taking lessons at Clarksdale’s Delta Blues Museum with North Mississippi bluesman Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry, the guitar. Kingfish started booking gigs in the Delta by the time he was in 7th grade, and quickly developed a local following, as well as a growing rep among the world-renowned blues musicians who visited the Delta.
“There was no place I probably wouldn’t be gigging,” he said, “I got hooked. This is what I am going to be playing for the rest of my life.”
(In 2012, CHRISTONE, then 12, played bass at a street fair in Clarksdale in a pick-up band that included vacationing Waterfront Blues Festival Artistic Director and guitarist Peter Dammann, and WBF FedEx Crossroads stage manager, harmonica ace and Clarksdale graphic artist Stan Street. “Yah, he’s a great bassist,” warned Street, “but you should hear Kingfish play guitar!”)
As a guitarist CHRISTONE cites influences that extend across the full spectrum of the blues, ranging from the Delta blues of Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Lightnin' Hopkins to the electric blues of B.B. King, Albert King, Albert Collins, Freddie King, Lefty Dizz, Lucky Peterson, Little Jimmy King and Buddy Guy; to the blues rock of Joe Bonamassa, Eric Gales, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Duane Allman, Jonny Lang, Humble Pie’s Steve Marriott, and Prince. He can perfectly reproduce the riffs of his mentors, but also, and more surprisingly for such a young player, has begun to forge a sophisticated, deeply soulful sound of his own.
More recently Kingfish has begun to emerge as a powerful vocalist, one who sounds less like a teen blues belter than a young version of Albert King.