Guitarist Chris Thomas King delivers shades of the blues

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

Louisiana-born guitarist, Chris Thomas King grew up immersed in the blues from a very early age when he would frequent his father's club, Tabby's Blues Box. He honed his skills performing with the likes of the late Silas Hogan, Guitar Kelly and Clarence Edwards, three masters of swamp blues. The music was pure, New Orleans-area blues culture.

At Blues Alley on Tuesday, King, obviously no stranger to club performances, plays for the people who have followed his career over the past decade, the ones who he maintains "come there to listen [to] serious music and ... hang on every note."

"Blues Alley is one of those places where you kind of want to put on your best," said King, who, in addition to his musical performance and three Grammy awards on his mantle, is a successful film composer and actor.

Just as in most clubs where King appears, audiences will know his music from films like "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" starring George Clooney and the Oscar-winning movie "Ray," about the life and times of the legendary Ray Charles. King aims to please them all.

Onstage
Chris Thomas King
Where: Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW
When: 8 and 10 p.m. Tuesday
Info: $20; 202-337-4141; bluesalley.com

With fellow blues players, drummer Jeff Mills and bassist Danny Infante, King will also showcase the music from his 2011 album, "Antebellum Postcards," and his just released album, "Bona Fide." Fans will hear his acoustic side as well as his plugged-in prowess.

" 'Antebellum Postcards' went over very well," King noted. "We've been doing songs from that album for the last eight or nine months. 'Antebellum' goes back to when the music kind of began. Some people ... just think about the blues of the 1930s, but the music really started in New Orleans."

In the early years of the 20th century, once the blues appeared in sheet music form, compositions flourished, even finding their way into operas.

"When I call myself a blues musician, I'm drawing on all of the blues," King continued. "I'm in love with everybody from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to Jimi Hendrix. There's going to be different shades of the blues [tonight], from the sophisticated to the folk blues of the early period."

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