Months after COVID forced site closures and tour cancellations, Ingram began to think about a follow-up to Kingfish, her Grammy-nominated debut 2019 Alligator Records. He wanted to write a personal album, especially since his mother had passed away just as his career was taking off. He also wanted to feature his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi, one of the blues’ earliest epicenters, the place where Robert Johnson allegedly made a deal with the devil at the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49.
In May 2020, Ingram started working on what would become 662, named after the North Mississippi Delta area code that was first used in 1999, the year of his birth. He first worked with Grammy-winning Tom Hambridge, who had produced Kingfish, and songwriter Richard Fleming and others during the Zoom sessions from May to September.
âIt would take me two hours to put out a song or two, and one time we did three in one session,â Ingram recalls.
The thirteen tracks 662, which dropped last July, opens with the track cut, a blend of high octane blues that features one of Ingram’s many mind-blowing solos. He sings about his hometown, where “a lot of people get up early, a lot of people get high,” and there is a church on every corner.
On the funky “Too Young to Remember”, the 22-year-old sings: “When you see me playing guitar, you look back a hundred years.”
“It just says all these guys like Lightnin ‘Hopkins, Robert Johnson, Howlin Wolf, Albert King, Freddie King, BB King – how I’m able to soak up a lot of what I’ve heard and what that I ‘I listened to, “says Ingram.” That’s why I say that when you hear me play the guitar, you look back a hundred years. It’s almost like you’re listening to them, because I watched what they did and studied what they did and added that to my own [playing]. ”
Before Kingfish came out, Ingram opened for Guy, and he was watching the blues legend from the backstage of the stage and seeing how he worked with the crowd.
âI was able to borrow little things he had done on stage,â he says.
As Ingram digs deep on the guitar on some of 662, it gets poignant on the slower “Another Life Goes By”, which he wrote with Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland in mind, about “two or three years before it all got out of hand,” he says.
âOne of the reasons I wrote this song is because a lot of people think when it comes to blues these days it’s just one thing,â he continues. . âThey think it’s just cotton fields and ‘My baby left me,’ and that’s it. But blues music was born out of protests. They say ‘Don’t divide’, but the blues is born from division. Being a young African American man today, it is mandatory that I sing about it because it is my blues today.
Ingram, who notes that he and his mother were homeless for some time before his career took off, sings about how music was his way out of poverty and crime on âNot Gonna Lieâ. And now that he’s where he is, he says he has to âkeep it upâ because he âpromised Buddy Guyâ.
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram performs with the Cerny Brothers at 8 p.m. on Friday October 22, at the Summit, 1902 Blake Street, $ 25- $ 27.50, summitdenver.com.