Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – Boulder Theater – April 18, 2024

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

George Harrison’s guitar gently weeps. (Actually, it was Eric Clapton’s guitar, but let’s not get picky.) Christone “Kingfish” Ingram’s guitar screams for mercy. Watching and listening to him kill solo after solo after solo, I actually start feeling sorry for that innocent purple Telecaster. Is it crazy to feel sympathy for an inanimate object?

The first time I saw Kingfish perform live was when he played at the Summit Music Hall in 2021. I was familiar with his music, but I had no idea how incredible he was going to be live. I was absolutely mesmerized. The Denver area has been blessed to have Kingfish return on a regular basis… he played the Paramount in May of 2022 and the Fox in Boulder in March of 2023. And last night he brought his 662 Juke Joint Live tour back to Boulder, this time playing the Boulder Theater.

And yes, he brought that poor, mistreated purple Telecaster with him. (Although it didn’t show up until the encore – for a while I thought perhaps the poor thing had sadly met its demise.)

At the ripe old age of twenty-five, Kingfish has already collected more awards and honors than many artists receive over careers spanning decades. All three of his album releases – 2019’s Kingfish, 2021’s 662, and 2023’s Live In London – were nominated for Grammy’s in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category. 662 actually won that award, as well as the Blues Music Award for Best Blues Album. He’s been nominated for an astounding ten Blues Music Awards and has won them all. When you hear him referred to as the “future of blues music,” there’s a good reason.

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

And while all of that is well and good, nothing you read will prepare you for what you will see and hear if you’re fortunate enough to see Kingfish perform live. Ask any member of last night’s sold-out Boulder Theater crowd. Hold that thought… we’ll return to it later in this article.

Last night’s show kicked off just a few minutes after 9:00 pm, with Kingfish’s long-time band – DeShawn “DVibes” Alexander on keyboards, Paul Rogers on bass, and Chris Black on drums – taking the stage ahead of Kingfish himself. After about two minutes of what verged on a smooth jazz instrumental intro, Ingram walked on stage from the left, already playing, while the crowd went nuts.

Kingfish and company went on to present an eleven-song, hour and forty-five-minute set that included eight songs from his two studio albums, a pair of songs that showed up for the first time on his Live In London album, and the always show-stopping “Empty Promises”, which was released as a single in 2020. You can check out the full setlist in the photo gallery below.

There are certain moments in all Kingfish shows that always stand out, no matter how many times you see him perform. Primary among them is the audience walkabout, an homage to one of Ingram’s mentors and heroes, Buddy Guy. At a point during the show – last night it was during the sixth song of the set, the extended instrumental “Mississippi Night” – Ingram steps down from the stage, into the crowd, continuously playing. This walkabout goes on for almost ten minutes, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, hundreds of cell phones taking pictures and capturing video. It is an extraordinary “give back” gesture from a man who truly cherishes the people who pay good money to come out to see him perform live.

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

I could go on and on about how incredible a Kingfish show is, and about what an amazing singing voice he has, and (of course) about his virtuoso guitar skills. But if you’ve read either of my previous Kingfish show reviews (Fox Theatre March 2023, Paramount Theatre May 2022), you’ve heard that from me already. So instead, I’m going to return to the thought I planted above – the notion that the best way to understand how incredible a Kingfish live show is, is to hear from the people in the audience.

I hung around after the show, grabbing people randomly, asking them to share their thoughts on what they had just seen and heard. Here’s what a few of them said…

“That was another level. Among the best live performances I have seen” – Todd from Boulder

“What an amazing show! Not only is Kingfish one of the world’s best blues artists, but he is also one heck of an entertainer. He clearly loves his audience and gave us his all this evening. So fun!” – Dave from Arvada

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

“The Boulder Theater was a perfect venue for the Kingfish show. Small enough to be intimate and offer great views of the stage, but large enough to host a rowdy, loud and fully engaged, appreciative, elbow to elbow, SRO crowd. Kingfish and his band did not disappoint. To the contrary, they exceeded my expectations, which were very high after seeing them a few years ago in Denver. I felt the band was tighter, improved from last time, and Christone shines brightly as the front man and the facilitator of some kick-ass music! Dude can make that guitar wail.” – Tom from Arvada

“Kingfish never fails to amaze. His dexterity with a guitar is unsurpassed. His shows become increasingly entertaining as he interacts more with his band in musically humorous ways.” – Patrick from Broomfield

“My first-time seeing Kingfish and now I see (hear) what all the excitement is about. His guitar playing was unbelievable and his bandmates were equally as awesome” – Darren from Firestone

If you were at the show last night, and would like to share your thoughts, please do so by adding a comment to this review. And if you see me at a future show, and would like to share your thoughts in person, don’t hesitate to tap me on the shoulder.

Story and photos by Rick Witt