“Edward is ‘King’ of 50 Years of Blues”

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A musical retrospective is akin to an artist presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to himself or herself. It’s not meant to be boastful – rather, reflective and introspective. Living for fifty years is a notable feat, but performing for fifty years is a whole different ballgame.

“King” Edward Memphis Antoine was born in Rayne, Louisiana, in 1937 to a Cajun-speaking family. According to the “About” section of his promotional website via Hit the Road Entertainment, “Yes, you can ask him to speak French, and he will love doing so!” He taught himself to play the guitar, but his famous cousin Clifton Chenier taught him how to play Zydeco.

Edward later moved to Portland, Oregon, and the Windy City, where he played with almost everybody who’s anybody in the blues – among them Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Junior Wells, Earl Hooker, Junior Wells, Tyrone Davis, and Buddy Guy. When life brought him to Jackson, Mississippi, where he still lives today, he became a legend all over the state. King Edward played at the Subway Lounge, Queen of Hearts, and Ace Records clubs every week for years. That’s why Robert Mugge featured him in his documentary Last of the Mississippi Jukes. With such a rich history, one can truly say King Edward lived the blues, and didn’t just play them.

50 Years of Blues contains several King Edward originals, which he either wrote or co-wrote. Popular covers are also featured, such as Bo Diddley’s “You Don’t Love Me”, Guitar Slim’s “The Things I Used to Do”, Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Mr. Charlie”, and “Today I Started Loving You Again” by Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens. Musically, his guitar sings and tells stories just as much as he does. His vocals are dry and nonchalant, not quite slipping into talk-singing. No one could accuse him of being “emo”, as the adolescent term goes for moody people.

Guitarist and vocalist King Edward credits Oteil Burbridge, Marco Giovino, and Doug Lancio in the CD liner notes as his accompanists. However, the liner notes don’t reveal who plays what. He also gives thanks to Peggy R. Brown and Nolan Struck, who co-wrote many of the songs on this album. The following original tunes are tops:

Track 03: “King of the Castle” – This sizzling instrumental was recently played on the Friends of the Blues radio show, nationally syndicated through the African American Public Radio Consortium. With a bouncy beat irresistible on any dance floor, it shows just how well King Edward plays guitar.

Track 09: “My Nerve’s Gone Bad” – Written by Nolan Struck, the guitar refrain here quivers like a mind on the edge of a breakdown. “Nerve’s gone bad again. Look how I talk when I walk the street. Got a real pretty woman; I haven’t been myself since I lost my peace.”

Track 11: “You’ve Been Cheatin’” – The final track features crisp instrumentation, blues “comfort food.” “Please don’t come knocking on my door, ‘cause I’m not in love with you anymore,” sings Edward matter-of-factly.

Edward is “King” of 50 Years of Blues!

By Rainey Wetnight, in the January 3rd, 2016, issue of Blues Blast Magazine.

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50 Years of Blues is available on CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon.