Shelley King

Shelley King

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

10:00 pm


This event is 21 and over

Shelley King
Shelley King
Some people enter a room and blend right in. Not Shelley King. She sweeps in, carrying herself with the strength and assurance of a woman who knows how to step up and get it done, whether "it" is leading her band, running her own record label or co-producing her new album, Building A Fire.

If there's a little swagger to her strut, she's earned it. Since quitting a sales job to pursue music full time in 1998, the singer-songwriter has served as the first female Texas state musician, performed with Levon Helm, toured the United States, Europe and Japan and cut two albums with members of the Subdudes — including this one, her seventh.

She's also the author of a song recorded by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra; they duetted on "Texas Blue Moon" after Hazlewood heard King's version on the radio while driving through the state. That might chalk up as a lucky break, but it's King's talent and tenacity that make such breaks happen.

We're talking, after all, about a woman who loves the Subdudes' music so much, she started pursuing opening slots on their tours so she could catch their shows. It makes perfect sense that King would be attracted to that New Orleans-born band; her own soul-filled, earthy Americana sound is rooted in southern gospel and blues, dampened by the Gulf-borne humidity of Louisiana, nourished by the river loam of Muscle Shoals, then cleansed by the hot springs of her native Arkansas, with a little Texas country bubbling underneath.

"I opened for them all over the country. It seemed like a coincidence to them," she says with a hearty laugh. The friendship was forged when they sat in with her at a festival after-party, and when King had a radio appearance lined up in Fort Collins, Colo., where several of the band members live, she got in touch. John Magnie met her at the station, accordion in hand, then gave her a tour of his home studio. Months later, she asked if she could record some demos there.

Those supposed demos turned out so well, they became her lauded 2009 album Welcome Home, which also led to a shared tour they actually planned.

King, Magnie and fellow co-producer Steve Amedee also made actual plans for recording Building A Fire, though the emphasis was still on having fun, not watching the clock.

"I've got tons and tons of songs. I'd just go in and start playing songs for them until they went, 'Hey, that's a cool one,'" King says. "I could play 10 songs and they'd find one that was super groovy and we'd work on that one."

The first one they recorded happens to be one of two she didn't write — the traditional, "I Know I've Been Changed." King first heard it via a YouTube video her mother sent, then turned up other versions, including several by Southern preachers who roused their congregations with it.

"It got stuck in my head so bad, it was playing nonstop," she says with a mock-groan. "Grocery store, driving a car, everything. So I walk into this studio and they ask, 'What to you want to record?'" The first thing out of her mouth was that lyric, intoned in full preacher mode. "I recorded it just to get us warmed up and because it wouldn't leave me alone," she says.
Her version drips with sinewy soul, evoking futilely swishing funeral-home fans and handkerchiefs dabbing at perspiring brows. But you'd swear the heat source is the devil himself, hovering behind every note in hopes of snatching wayward sinners from the brink of salvation.
Venue Information:
The Saxon Pub
1320 S Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX, 78704