Royal Ruckus

The Marcus King Band brings a taste of the south to Tucson

The Marcus King Band
The Marcus King Band

Marcus King and his quintet bring their outsized wall of slashing guitars, cutting organs and crashing drums to Tucson just in time for Labor Day.

King, 22, heads the Marcus King Band, which is touring in support of their 2018 album, Carolina Confessions, playing 60 shows around the country after a summer touring in support of the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Drive-By Truckers.

Touring comes naturally to the Greenville, S.C. native, as a third-generation musician. For King, playing live shows is a chance to connect with the audience in a new and exciting way for all involved.

"My favorite thing about performing live is the conversation that you get to have, not only with your fellow bandmates, but with the audience," King said. "And if everybody's picking up the right vibe, it's my kind of conversation."

King brings his blend of blues rock to 191 Toole on Saturday, Sept. 1, making his second stop in the Old Pueblo—after opening for Los Angeles-based The Record Company in years past.

King said he and his bandmates enjoyed their time in Tucson and are excited to return, this time as the headliner.

"We love it in the Southwest, man," he said. "It's more of a dry heat. We all really dig that."

King's brand of Southern rock merges the best of heavyweights like Derek Trucks and Merle Haggard with a soulful voice that harkens back to the likes of Otis Redding.

He's a rock prodigy, with an on-stage swagger well beyond his years. He's thrilled to have the chance to take what he learned from his summer of touring some of the biggest venues in the nation on this nationwide tour.

He and longtime drummer Jack Ryan, bass player Stephen Campbell, saxophonist Dean Mitchell, trumpet, trombone and backing vocals extraordinaire Justin Johnson and keyboard player Deshawn "D-Vibes" Jo Alexander are excited to bring their music to new audiences this fall.

The highlight of their supporting tour this summer was playing at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, which King called a dream come true.

"It's really a spiritual thing to be able to perform at that venue," he said. "And especially with the two bands we were on the bill with. It was a really special moment."

King says that the tour, the first such one as a headliner for the band, is going well, thanks to the camaraderie shared by the five members, on and off the stage.

"It's a family and it's a marriage. So, you know, you certainly have to respect each other's space on the road," King said. "And we all really know each other and are really comfortable around one another and we share really tight quarters most of the time. So, it becomes a really safe zone for everybody."

King doesn't see himself as much of a prodigy when it comes to playing guitar, however. He sees his progression as an artist as an extension of the work that he and his bandmates put in over the years.

"It comes with a lot of hard work for everybody involved and a really, really good team of people that we've surrounded ourselves with," he said. "It took a lot of tenacity from ourselves and seeing what we wanted and going after it with everything that we've got."

The Marcus King Band's show in Tucson will feature Bishop Gunn of Nashville as the opening act, presenting two of the scene's up-and-coming talents on one bill.

King is excited to showcase his band's chops in Tucson and says that those who wander over to 191 Toole will be treated with a night of rock music they won't soon forget.

"I would say come out to the show because it's an experience that we all have together," he said. "It's not just a show, it's an experience that we're all sharing in the same room. And we'd like to take somebody where we like to go."