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Here & Now...and Later!

Updated: Jun 26

On Thursday, June 20, I had the good fortune to see Christone Kingfish Ingram and opening act Mathias Lattin at TempleLive in Cleveland, and not just because it happened to be my birthday but because these guys and their bands are absolutely spectacular and it showed in every note, from the moment Mathias stepped out on stage to the moment Christone Kingfish stepped off and all those in between. In particular, those moments during the encore when these two talented young men went back-to-back, literally speaking. It was a cool room, too; an auditorium in a big ol’ early 20th century Masonic Temple with lots of character, pale walls trimmed in beautifully crafted oak on which the stage lights shone and danced, and dark plush carpet on which a packed house of fans stood from the stage to the back of the room and all along the step at the perimeter. Some were from Mississippi, a couple were from Milwaukee, others were local/regional, young and old, all thrilled to witness these bearers of the blues torch.

I had heard of Mathias Lattin prior to the show, heard a few songs, knew that he was the 2023 International Blues Challenge 1st place band and best guitarist winner, so this Houstonian’s reputation preceded him. Not that I questioned it but seeing him live confirmed exactly how he managed to do that at age 20. Now 21, Mathias and the other members of his power trio (power being the operative word, for sure), Jesse Gomez on Bass and Nick Andres on drums, ran the great guitar-driven blues rock gamut from pin-drop quiet solos to, as Mathias said, “hardwood floor foot-stompin’ blues,” and various points in between. A couple said points were a rousing rendition of “Little Wing” to the “Party” that he closed his set with.

Shortly thereafter, the room darkened again, Paul Rogers and Chris Black (bassist and drummer, respectively) took the stage, the ominous yet funky Kingfish intro music played, and out stepped Christone Kingfish Ingram and his beautiful Chertoff custom tiger maple finish, both just radiating light and some very joyful noise! He started off with that snappy, sultry "Mississippi Heat," then cooled it down a little for the succinct "Fresh Out" from 2019 (a logical sequence of messages, in some manners of speaking), which showcased his vocals beautifully. Next was "Another Life Goes By," his 2021 sad social commentary that’s belied by the beautiful balladry around the lyrics, then back to 2024 for some "Empty Promises" that sounded very full of some smooth modern blues. The grittier "Not Gonna Lie" was next and during the solo, Christone exited the stage one minute and emerged in the middle of the crowd the next! He played right there in the thick of things but in the zone, we respectful fans making little pockets of space for him to play to us at close range as we looked on in awe (note to Kingfish: you definitely did not break your promise to Buddy Guy!). “Mississippi Night” was heard by the hearts of the entire crowd; we were all in the zone by then, heads down and back, some eyes closed, swaying to the blues beat. Some “Hard Times” were next but Christone made it look easy, as he wove a thread or two of carnival music into his blistering solo. He then switched to his purple Fender Tele Deluxe and gave a heartfelt introduction to “Rock & Roll,” the song he wrote for his late mother, whom he lost in 2019. The melody and lyrics are a beautiful tribute, of which she would be proud. I lost my own mother nearly 4 years ago to the day and found it very moving; someone must have starting cutting onions, at that point in the show, and I don’t think I was the only one affected. After that, there was a return to some downhome rockin’ blues with “Outside of This Town,” which had everyone moving and he added a little bit o’ Smokestack Lightning to the solo, and he ended the set with the ode to his area code, “662.”

After a few moments of some floor-shakin’ stomps and shouts, Eric Robert came back out to sit down at his keyboard and make it talk to us and to our surprise, a little bit of “Eleanor Rigby” was in the conversation. Kingfish came back out for “Long Distance Woman” but he wasn’t alone; no long distance women showed up but Mathias Lattin was there on stage with his PRS DGT, trading riffs and licks before finishing the song and closing the show. What a show it was, too! If you weren’t there, I wish you were and I also hope you get to Christone Kingfish Ingram and Mathias Lattin live sometime soon. These two young men are the wings to the roots of the blues, proudly bringing it to the here and now and, I have no doubt, later, as their sound continue to soar.

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