Little Freddie King – ‘Fried Rice & Chicken’ (2018)

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The title alone makes me hungry but the music inside feeds my soul. Earlier this year Orleans Records released Fried Rice & Chicken from long time New Orleans bluesman Little Freddie King. With tracks culled from his 1990s recordings Swamp Boogie (released 1996) and the live Sing Sang Sung (released 2000), Fried Rice might be subtitled The Best of the Orleans Records Years, representing those two albums he made for the label that got his recording career belatedly started in earnest.

Born Fread Eugene Martin in McComb, Mississippi back in 1940, King moved to the Crescent City at age seventeen and has been a fixture on its vibrant blues scene ever since. Continuing in the tradition of his father Jesse James Martin and cousin Lightnin’ Hopkins, Little Freddie King’s no-frills attack is a godsend for those craving electric blues that’s scratchy, coarse and dirty…the way the blues always used to be.

King may have adopted a stage name that calls to mind the late Texas Cannonball but his guitar attack sometimes comes off as a grittier version of another King: B.B. It’s refreshingly honest, riding on passion and not old, tired licks. Like the original Freddie though, he’s just as apt to reel off a blues instrumental and let his guitar do all the talking. like “Cleo’s Back” (featured in the Tom Hanks film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close), the “Tequila”-like “The Great Chinese” and even Freddie King’s classic “Hide Away.”

When King does sing, his blues drawl is in the rugged rural style of Little Walter and Jimmie Reed, but it’s clear he loves playing the guitar more; even when performing the Ray Charles’ classic “What’d I Say,” there’s a whole lot of guitar taking up space where some of that singing might go.

Not that anyone would be apt to complain. Rightfully called “one of the last great country blues players” (Allmusic.com), it’s small wonder that with his original, engaging style, Little Freddie King has been a long time favorite at New Orleans’ Jazz & Heritage Festival every spring. If you haven’t been to the Jazz Fest yet and discovered one of the city’s hidden blues treasures, Fried Rice & Chicken is a perfect way to get acquainted with him.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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