Kaki King to hold court at the Iron Horse

By Tappan Parker

Kaki King is a guitarist whose name is slowly rising to prominence in the music industry. She is largely known for using unique tunings and various different playing styles when playing her guitar.

Kaki King will be performing with her full band this Monday, April 19 at the Iron Horse in Northampton starting at 7 p.m.

Kaki King is not your normal acoustic artist. Instead of just strumming and playing her guitar, she plays by combining slap bass techniques and fret-tapping while hitting the guitar to add percussive rhythm to her songs. In addition she uses looping to layer her playing, allowing for a deep, rich and complex sound in her music.

With such a mesmerizing playing style, it is no wonder that King’s music is just as intricate and interesting. While she has a heavy emphasis on instrumental music for an acoustic artist, the post-rock and jazz combination of her playing never gets old. Upon seeing her play, your jaw will drop as you try and figure out how exactly she is able to keep all of her rhythms and melodies going at the same time.

Born Katherine Elizabeth King, Kaki King was first introduced to the guitar but only began passionately playing music when she took up the drums. In 1998, when King headed off to New York University, she picked up the guitar again and began playing various shows, as well as in the New York subways.

King began releasing solo albums in 2003, and her first two albums were mostly acoustic. However, on the tour for her third album, “…Until We Felt Red,” King decided to break away from being known only as a solo artist and began performing with a full band behind her. This album also featured more of King’s singing than her previous albums, showcasing her continuing evolution as an artist.

As King’s recognition in the music industry grew, more and more artists began to take notice of her talents. Tegan and Sara and the Foo Fighters, included her as a guest artist in many of their songs.

David Grohl of Foo Fighters fame even invited King to perform “Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners” at the 02 Arena in London in 2007. After the song, he left King to play her own instrumental, but not before saying “There are some guitar players that are good and there are some guitar players that are really [explicative] good. And then there’s Kaki King.”

In February of 2007, King was even named as a guitar god by Rolling Stone magazine, calling her playing style “Van Halen meets Bootsy.” This makes King the first female guitarist to be named a guitar god by Rolling Stone.

King’s current tour is in support of her new album, “Junior,” which will be released on the same day as the upcoming concert. As her fifth studio album, Junior is themed around espionage, and according to King’s website “like a tantalizing spy novel that’s full of surprises, Junior delivers twists-and-turns … Junior showcases [King’s] further maturation as a well-rounded artist that defies categorization and expectations.”

Kaki King has invented her own style of music, using her own style of playing, and just doing her own thing. If there is one artist you should try and check out this year, it is Kaki King.

Kaki King will be performing at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA on Monday, April 19th at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $15 online and $18 at the door.

Tappan Parker can be reached at [email protected]