A modern songwriter inspired by the swampy grit, juke-joint swagger, and countrified twang of old-school American roots music, King Corduroy has been chasing his singular muse for years, making his own kind of “cosmic southern soul music” along the way. It’s a sound anchored by a genuine reverence for the good stuff — including Texas electric blues, Memphis soul, New Orleans voodoo funk, the Tulsa groove and Mississippi Delta blues — and updated to suit the unique experience of a storyteller, multi-instrumentalist, wandering troubadour, and larger-than-life frontman who’s lived everywhere from the Bible Belt to the Mexican Baja. Those travels play a central role on King Corduroy’s fourth release, Avalon Ave. (out 8/16), whose five songs match King Corduroy’s colorful appearance — equal parts 1970s-era Leon Russell, Southern rock bluesman, and hippie mystic — with soulful performances and real-life stories sourced from his own rambles.
“It’s all about storytelling,” explains the musician, who was raised in Montgomery, Alabama, before logging time in cities like Austin, Los Angeles, Todos Santos, and Nashville. “I go around, I see stuff, and then I report it by telling these stories. There are different types of troubadours who have carried that tradition. Ernest Tubb was The Texas Troubadour. Woody Guthrie was The Dustbowl Troubadour. I’m a cosmic troubadour — The Cosmic Troubadour of Southern Soul.”
Avalon Ave. was largely recorded at the iconic FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Jerry Reed, Band of Horses, and Jason Isbell all tracked some of their most enduring work. An Alabama native himself, Corduroy already had several ties to the studio and its legendary client list. His 2014 EP, Livin’ on Nashville Time, was engineered by Jerry Reed’s former guitarist, Mark Thornton, and recorded alongside members of the late country star’s band, while his 2018 release, L.A. Skyline, was co-engineered by former Lucinda Williams drummer Dave Raven and former Band of Horses bassist Bill Reynolds. Avalon Ave. helped bring those connections full circle, with King Corduroy tapping Jimbo Hart — longtime bassist for Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit — as the project’s producer.
Hart brought along Isbell bandmates drummer Chad Gamble and Derry deBorja on accordion and Moog, St. Paul & The Broken Bones organist Al Gamble, Muscle Shoals session regulars Barry Billings on acoustic guitar and NC Thurman on Wurlitzer and piano for the recording sessions, rounding out a studio band that also included a multi-piece horn section, three R&B backup singers, two string arrangements by Dayna Bee, and lead guitarist/slide disciple Kaleb “Junior” Patterson; who teamed up with Corduroy after sharing a bill at the now defunct Americana oasis The Piano Bar in Hollywood. The result is a record stocked with blasts of brass, electric guitar, layers of gospel harmonies, swirling organ, honking harmonica, and the swaggering southern drawl of King Corduroy’s voice.
Glide is thrilled to premiere the album-closing “Emerald Triangle Blues” that was inspired by the tales of an employer during his seasonal work trimming leaves and harvesting crops in Northern California’s marijuana fields. With the unfortunate recent passing of various New Orleans musical icons, there is room for new cosmic artists to carry the torch of Dr. John and Leon Russell. King Corduroy delivers a slick guitar boogie, festive grooves and a righteous croon that carves him a path as a future festival favorite.
“After finishing four songs at FAME in two days we decided to go back down to Muscle Shoals for one more day and record at a different studio called Avalon Recorders that’s just down the street from FAME,” says King Corduroy. “They have a killer API board and the owner Charles Holloman was so much fun to work with. Jimbo said: “Hey man we need a real funky tune to add to the record”, so I decided to add some spice and a new groove to “The Emerald Triangle Blues”.
I sat down and came up with the turnaround riff to use an intro and an instrumental theme to use an interlude. I sent a voice note to my guitar player Kaleb Patterson who came up with a counterpart. Kaleb then hashed out a great 3 part slide arrangement for the end of the song with a real Duane Allman vibe. Then instead of being a straight shuffle, I decided to give it a funk groove that builds into a chorus feel that is a flat-tire shuffle… it’s one of those things where it’s so wrong it’s right. Chad Gamble’s drum parts on all the tunes are unique and so groovy, but this song, in particular, has such a distinctly funky Chad Gamble feel that has a taste of Memphis in it. Chad is always working the hi-hat into his groove; his left foot is part of his special sauce.