When Marcus King was a little kid, he cherished afternoons spent on his great-grandfather's front porch in South Carolina, where his extended family would jam on string instruments and sing gospel songs.
"It was just such a joy — even if everyone was in a bad mood, that brought everybody together and that's what initially drew me into music," King says.
It wouldn't take long for King to develop an obsession with music. The son of blues guitarist Marvin King, he started seriously playing guitar around age 8. At 11, he played guitar on one of his dad's albums. The next year, he started his first band. Now 20, King is poised to be one of music's next great guitarists — a virtuosic talent capable of playing blues, rock, R&B, country, soul and more.
King says he knew he wanted to pursue a career in music from an early age. His junior year of high school, he dropped out and got his GED.
"I never really had a doubt in my mind," King says. "I always knew music was going to be the sole purpose in life for me."
King took an academic approach to music, studying his favorite guitar players, particularly Allman Brothers Band co-founder Duane Allman.
"He died at the young age of 24 and he accomplished a hell of a lot for 24, and he wouldn't have if he wasn't so tenacious with his guitar," King says. "For whatever reason, I've always felt like I need to say everything I need to say as soon as I can. Get it on paper or on tape because I don't want to leave this world without putting some kind of mark of who I was on it."
King's dad and grandpa introduced him to the music of greats like B.B. King, Albert King, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard.
"When I was really young, I didn't have any friends around the neighborhood so when I got home from school, I'd sit and I'd study all this stuff and play my guitar all day," he says. "It never really felt like practice — I just wanted to do it."
The effort has paid off with The Marcus King Band, King's six-piece rock and soul outfit that solidified its current, horn-enhanced lineup about a year ago.
With the group's second album, a self-titled effort, due out Oct. 7, King has also established himself as a songwriter, singer and bandleader.
The album was produced by one of King's personal guitar heroes, Gov't Mule leader Warren Haynes, who plays on "Virginia." Another hero of King's, Derek Trucks, adds his trademark slide guitar to "Self-Hatred."
"I'm still kind of in shock about that," King says of working with the former Allman Brothers guitarists.
Like the Allmans, King's band is known for marathon live shows. In concert, King tries to recall the spirit of his family's front-porch jam sessions.
"Something we try to do with the shows is bring the people together," King says. "We like everybody to be on the same ride as us, everybody feeling the same emotion in the room and then at the end of the night we can take a big breath together because we just ran a few miles."
Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW; Thu., 7:30 p.m., $10-$15.
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