The initial hype that surrounded “Kingfish” will probably die down, but with his 2021 follow-up album “662,” the guitarist-singer walks all over any worries about a sophomore slump, showing considerable growth as a songwriter and vocalist, delivering an album that’s notably richer both musically and lyrically.
The career that is unfolding now for Ingram is pretty much what he wanted to pursue since he was a pre-teen kid.
“Well, it started off with my dad. I want to say my dad was the one who would buy me all of the instruments. I think he saw something (in me) early on himself, even though he’s not musically inclined, or anyone on his side of the family is,” Ingram said. “On my mom’s side of the family, that side, they were the reasons why I wanted to play because I would go to church and see them in the quartet (gospel) groups. All of my uncles on their side of the family preached, or preached and played or just sang and played. So I was around them 24-7, and my mom, she was a singer as well. So I would see her sing a lot in churches as a child. So all of that pretty much influenced me to want to become a musician and learn from my Clarksdale history and learn what the city was about.”
As a teenager, he also took classes at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, which furthered not only his playing skills on guitar, but his education into the history of blues and Clarksdale’s place in the genre. As time went on, Ingram also explored other more contemporary artists and genres, which helps explain the wider reach of the songs on “662.” The rock edge was present on “Kingfish,” but it re-emerges even more strongly on the second album, while there are also moments that touch on jazz, funk and soul. Still, his music first and foremost is blues.
As the pandemic unfolded, Ingram spent time practicing guitar and writing songs for “662,” which is named after the area code for the Clarksdale area. As with the “Kingfish” album, he hooked up with producer/songwriter Tom Hambridge, and the two held weekly songwriting sessions via Zoom from May to September before heading into the studio, where the album was pretty much completed in five days.
Ingram is back on tour, playing in a four-piece format with bass, drums and keyboards, and he plans to perform plenty of songs from his two albums.
“We’re just trying to mix in both of the albums because there are some people who still listen to the first one and they really enjoy that one,” he said. “But with this tour, I’m happy I’m at a point now where I can play a whole show and do all of my own stuff. So that’s where we’re at now, putting both records together for one set.”
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
7:30 p.m. March 11. $25-$45. Atlanta Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-5000, aso.org.