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The Marcus King Band set for Maine return

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Marcus King says he won’t forget 2018 anytime soon. The 22-year old guitarist and band leader of the blues and soul-infused Marcus King Band has just returned from a 15-date European tour in support of “Carolina Confessions” – the band’s third album.

King and his five bandmates are set to appear at Aura in Portland on Wednesday, November 21, and King says he can’t wait to return to Maine.

“We have our favorite cities to play and Portland, Maine is certainly one of them,” King said during a breather from his headlining tour. “We have a very strong fanbase in the Portland area and we’re sure looking forward to great lobster rolls when we’re there.”

King, who last appeared in Maine with his band at Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery in Union in September 2017, cites Maine fans as having an especially deep appreciation for music.

“The audiences in Maine seem to listen and really pay attention to what’s happening in the music,” King said, adding that he hopes to take in some of the area’s offerings during his time here.

“There are some days when we don’t have the time to out and experience the cities as much as we’d like, so it kind of becomes a ‘where are we?’ kind of thing. But in Maine, we get great crowds and great views and we want to see them,” King said.

A fourth-generation musician, King was raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and learned the ropes as a sideman for his father, Marvin King – a singer and guitarist who has toured nationally since the 1970s.

Marcus says there was never any question that he would follow in his Dad’s footsteps.

“It was always just an understood thing in my mind that this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “What I had to do to really get everything out of this life that I could.”

At his band’s shows, King prefers to shake the set-list up from night to night, pulling songs from each group effort to date while mixing in choice cover material.

Recent shows have included tunes from the Grateful Dead, The Meters, C,S,N & Y, Johnny Cash, the Allman Brothers Band, The Band, Chicago and Funkadelic, among many others. Marcus again credits his father for helping shape his appreciation for the classics.

“There was always good music in the house when I was growing up,” said King. “I’d watch these great documentaries on VHS from The Temptations, James Brown and lots of others. It was all very inspiring for me.”

“Carolina Confessions” defies the commonly cited “difficult third album” tag as a collection of all-killer, no-filler, personal and confessional songs, searing musicianship and a live-in-the-studio sound, which King says was his intention from the outset.

“Most of what you’re hearing on the tracks was all cut live,” King said. “There were some overdubs involved and we got creative in some areas but the majority was cut live.”

Produced by Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb (Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Zac Brown), “Carolina Confessions” captures a moment in time for a band that has become the next big thing in the worlds of blues, soul and Americana.

“Dave Cobb was very hip to the fact that our thing is we love to play live and he was into the idea of getting our live sound on the record,” King said.

At a Marcus King Band performance, you can spot the guitarists in the audience because most are standing as close to King as possible to eyeball his prowess on his Gibson 345 and Les Paul Standard guitars.

When I asked what he’s using for pedals these days, King said “I don’t like to use too many effects,” “I use the Deja Vibe (guitar pedal made by Fulltone) which I get a UniVibe sound from. (The UniVibe is a phaser pedal that emulates the sound of a Leslie speaker. It was a favorite of Jimi Hendrix and Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd).

King says he always employs a wah-wah pedal and a Tube Screamer (overdrive pedal) at his live shows, along with his favorite 1965 Fender Super Reverb amp.

“At a lot of the venues we play it’s hard to really dial in the amps to get that natural breakup in distortion that I can get in the studio. The Tube Screamer helps me do that.”

King is deeply grateful for the success that his band is seeing right now but he recognizes the danger of stepping off the gas, even for a minute.

“I’m a really big believer in that once things start to feel good, that’s when you’ve really got to turn up the heat and keep on growing. I don’t think there’s any point in this race where it’s OK to lay down. With the amount of work that we’ve all put in, it’s gratifying to feel the love but it’s also a reminder to keep on pushing.”

(Tickets for The Marcus King Band with special opening guest Ida Mae (British blues/Americana), November 21 at Aura in Portland, are available at www.AuraMaine.com.)

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