In August, Chris Thomas King, the Grammy-winning blues artist and actor from Baton Rouge, will release his first album in five years.
“Hotel Voodoo” features nine original songs and King’s remake of Adele’s “Someone Like You.”
“First of all, it’s a well-written song,” King says of his decision to record an Adele hit. “And in contemporary music, men, especially African-American men, aren’t writing these type of songs and lyrics. They’re too macho to sing Marvin Gaye-type material anymore.”
King cited the Broadway melodies John Coltrane and Charlie Parker transformed into jazz standards as precedents for his rendition of an Adele song.
“Miles Davis did Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time,’ ” King adds. “Ray Charles took tunes from all over the place. Once he did them, they were Ray Charles blues. No material is off limits. Like Jelly Roll Morton said, ‘You can blues any tune.’ ”
King will play some songs from his upcoming album during his solo acoustic and storytelling show Saturday at the Dyson House Listening Room. It will be his only Baton Rouge performance this year. He’ll also perform songs from his two best-known movies, the Oscar-winning Ray Charles biopic “Ray” and the mystical, music-filled Coen Brothers’ film based on Homer’s “The Odyssey,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
King’s new album, “Hotel Voodoo,” is divided into “The Baron Samedi Suite” and “The Jelly Roll Suite.” In Haitian voodoo, Baron Samedi is the mischievous spirit who dwells at the crossroad where the realms of the living and the dead intersect. “The Jelly Roll Suite” title refers to the innovative early 20th-century New Orleans pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton.
King’s idea for “Hotel Voodoo” is to bring listeners into different rooms, each containing its own particular atmosphere.
The album opens with “American Man (In the Key of Free),” a meld of Bruce Springsteen uplift and Prince pop-rock most would be hard to classify as blues. Another song, “Voodoo Child (On Hell’s Highway),” takes its cue from country music great Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway.”
On “Tabby’s on the Bayou,” King pays tribute to his late father, Tabby Thomas. A Baton Rouge blues musician and recording artist, Thomas operated his blues club, Tabby’s Blues Box and…