McKinley James @8pm – $10 cover. 21+ only.
The first thing you notice about McKinley James’ extraordinary new EP Still Standing By is the serious mix of Motown soul and blues-based guitar playing. It doesn’t sound like the type of “blues” you get from traditional purveyors of the genre, but instead from a guitarist who understands chord theory so well you could swear you’re hearing a horn section sometimes. That’s because he leads a trio, and while guitar stores reverberate with licks from ham-fisted modern bluesmen when they don’t know shuffle from shinola, McKinley would walk into that guitar store, plug in, and summon the spirits of his own idols, nearly forgotten pioneers like Otis Rush and Johnny “Guitar” Watson. Still Standing By is his third EP, all of them fine listens, and here’s the thing… McKinley is 19 years old. Already a veteran before he’s old enough to drink.
Already a seasoned road dog who missed his own high school graduation for a gig, things are now heating back up in the wake of the pandemic, as he and his band gear up for the type of touring young men are built for. James is incandescently stoked about the July 23rd release of Still Standing By, and given the music on it, he should be. So where does he see himself a year from now? “On the road, taking this thing even further,” he enthuses. “Everyone’s just so happy, and the band is ready to get out there. We’re just ready to go and ride it out. And I hope people dig the record.” Odds are they will.