By John W. Fountain III
One day Giles Corey and Rick King got together and formed a band called Lubriphonic. What does the name mean? King says it simply means, “lubricated sound.” Being a sideman for other musicians tends to keep you in the background and for ambitious musicians like King and Corey that was not enough. They have both played with a host of Blues musicians over their careers. It was 10 years ago that King and Corey combined their efforts and it is finally paying off in the form of festivals. This January they join a small fraternity of musicians who have the honor of opening up for Buddy Guy during Guy’s home stand. King stopped in on a chilly Friday afternoon in December to discuss the band’s fused sound.
Bluesletter: If you weren’t playing drums, what would you do?
Rick King: I would be a teacher. [pullquote]Entertaining and teaching both give me the same thrill. They are both about letting you be used as a vehicle for positive energy. [/pullquote]Both let you express life experience and knowledge. Both carry a responsibility to enlighten and elevate. Both are an opportunity to bring people together.
BL: How did you get into the drums?
RK: When I was five I would watch my teen-aged uncles play live Blues and rock in my grandparents’ basement on 43rd Street. It was like an under-aged night club with drinks, colored light bulbs, smoke machines and girls diggin’ live music. Later as an adult
I saw Killer Ray Allison play drums with James Cotton’s Big Band on New Years Eve 1990 at the Cubby Bear. The passion for playing that whole band threw down changed my life. Years later I toured with Cotton and also with Killer, as he now plays guitar.
I am proud to play with the trombone player in Cotton’s band, Johnny Cotton, in Lubriphonic.
BL: How long have you been playing drums on the Blues scene?
RK: In ‘93 I spent nine months playing eight or nine gigs a week playing on the South and West Side with Vance Kelly. That was an education! I call it VKU…Vance Kelly University. I learned soul, funk, R&B, dusty’s, and Blues. In the 16 years following Vance, I toured with a host of premier Blues artists like Junior Wells, Magic Slim, A.C. Reed, Big James, Chico Banks, others and now with Lubriphonic.
BL: What other music do you listen to?
RK: I love soul and funk! I listen to classical, gospel, hip-hop, bluegrass, Blues and lots of jazz. But I love funky soul music!
BL: How do you feel about the current state of Blues music and the future of Blues overall?
RK: That’s tricky. Blues is an African American folk music, originally, by the people for the people. [pullquote]I think the world-wide appeal of the Blues is in the music’s compassion. People around the globe can relate to a music that has persevered through so much. [/pullquote]I toured Japan with Koko Taylor and during off days I would find little Blues clubs and watch the locals play American Blues standards. These cats were throwin’ down! Most of them could not speak English but would sing the songs in English and dig deep to hit it! They were trying to recreate the emotion from the Blues because they somehow related to the sounds. The music moved them so deeply that they had to copy it even though it had nothing to do with their ancestry.
All I do know for sure is that I love the Blues. I love the Chicago Blues scene and the whole dysfunctional and beautiful Chicago Blues family, LOL (you know who you are)! This scene has allowed me to live my dream of being a working musician. I am so thankful to be on this scene because Chicago Blues has nothing to do with my Lithuanian ancestry. But to receive love from drummers like Killer Ray Allison, Willie “The Touch” Hayes, Brian “BJ” Jones, “Pooky”, and countless other African American musicians: I feel blessed. Music has the power and the spirit to bring people together. I live for that!
As far as the future of Blues overall, I can only think about this: Blues is Blues. Period. If you change it at all, it becomes something else. It becomes R&B, it becomes soul, it becomes funk, it becomes rock n’ roll. Some of the younger cats on the Chicago scene like Joe Moss or Torronzo Cannon have the style of traditional Chicago Blues with their own fresh lyrics that tell a contemporary story. Young cats like Eric Davis are emerging with a gritty old school ferocious style and then you’ve got cats like Mathew Skoller mixing old school harmonica à la Wells and Cotton with his own contemporary songs and lyrics. [pullquote]The Blues reaches so far and wide I think it will spread in different ways — traditional and non-traditional — for generations.[/pullquote]
BL: How supportive were your friends?
RK: Being from Chicago just made it so much easier. I have tons of friends that have come from all over the globe to play Blues with Chicago musicians. We have a particular groove that is attractive all over the world.
BL: What has been the major highlight for you as a Blues musician?
RK: Headlining the Chicago Blues Fest at the Petrillo Bandshell in 2000 with Koko Taylor and in 2001 with Chuck Berry. It’s nice when your family gets to see you at home!
BL: What do you hope to accomplish on the Blues scene?
RK: I hope that people like you continue to ask my opinion of what’s goin’ on. I like getting my opinion out of what is goin’ on. I’m proud of my experiences and thrilled to be a part of the future of Blues music with a band like Lubriphonic.
BL: What should people expect to hear from Lubriphonic?
RK: Lubriphonic is the next generation of Chicago funk soul Blues. We were sidemen for the best [in Blues]. We know how present a show. We deliver new funk rock Chicago soul every show! Come party with us and let’s bring it together! lubriphonic.com