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Is Gen Z guitar wiz Christone 'Kingfish' Ingram, 25, the heir apparent to Buddy Guy and B.B. King?

George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

Big shoes to fill

Ingram is understandably proud of his accomplishments. But he is the first to acknowledge he is standing on the shoulders of King, Guy and other blues giants who paved the way for him.

He credits them with helping propel blues onto the global stage decades before he was born, and for essentially building — not just opening — the doors Ingram has walked through at such a young age. That respect and admiration works both ways.

Guy was suitably impressed with Ingram after the two first played together at a blues festival in Oregon in 2016. So impressed, in fact, that he hailed the young guitarist and singer as "the next blues explosion." Guy subsequently put up all the money for Ingram to record his debut album.

Last year, Guy — now 87 — invited Ingram to be the opening act for his worldwide farewell tour. To some observers, the Guy/Ingram tour pairing represented a symbolic and literal passing of the torch: a veteran blues master handing the baton to a budding young blues master following closely in his footsteps.

Did it also feel that way to Ingram, who — in just the past five years — has won 10 national Blues Music Awards and 11 Living Blues Awards?

 

"Man!" he replied. "Quite honestly, I never thought of it like that. For me, Buddy Guy has always been the one and only. I look at it as: 'He'll be doing this forever, and I'm just along for the ride.' So, I didn't think of him passing anything to me.

"Let's just say he has probably passed the torch to all of us, just like Jimi Hendrix. In some way and some form, all us guitarists are influenced by Buddy."

Hendrix, who also cited Guy as a key inspiration, died in 1970. That was 29 years before Ingram — who started playing music at the age of 8 — was born. His concerts often feature Ingram's version of the Leaves' "Hey Joe," a song popularized by Hendrix in the 1960s.

"I've always been aware of who Jimi was, even before I was doing music, just seeing his face on TV," said Ingram, who has built a loyal following on Instagram and YouTube.

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©2024 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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