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American Routes Shortcuts: Little Freddie King

Little Freddie King
Little Freddie King
Little Freddie King
Credit American Routes
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Little Freddie King

We’re live at Marigny Studios with Little Freddie King, an old school bluesman from McComb, Mississippi who lives in New Orleans’ 9th Ward. Little Freddie is a great teller of tales. During the session, we talked about his comings and goings in music, and I asked about the story behind his homemade first guitar. 

 

Little Freddie King: I made a guitar because my daddy beat me for breaking the strings on his guitar. Nick Spitzer: Oh yeah that’s pretty tough love. 

LFK: So that definitely graduated me, made sure I stayed away from his guitar. And so my mama said, “Son, you wanna go to the store for me?” I said, “Yeah mama I’d be glad to.” I run to the store for my mama, and on my way back here come two big shots in a big Fleetwood Cadillac and blowed dust all over me. And when the dust settled–you know in the country have them dirt roads? When the dust settled down, and I could see the back of the car, and I could see they throwed something out the window. And when I went on down there where it was and looked down the ditch, it was a cigar box. I said, “Now look here. Just what I need. So I won’t catch no more whoopings I’ll make my own guitar.” So I made my guitar out of the big shot cigar box.

NS: Is that right? And what’d you use for strings?

LFK: So the horse fly landed on the horse and bit him, and I heard the way he was swishing his tail and stomping his feet. It made a sound. I said, “Oh I wonder what that sound on my guitar will make.” So I went and pulled the string out, put it on there. 

NS: The horsehair? 

LFK: The horsehair out his tail, and it made a sound. And I kept going back and forth, and I pulled a great big bald spot in that horse’s tail back there. I said, “Oh I’m gonna get another beatin’ because I know I can’t put this broken hair back on the horse’s tail.”

NS: But you got that guitar working, that cigar box guitar. You got horsehair strings on it. 

LFK: Right, that’s what got me going. 

NS: I love it! And it’s kept you going though today we’ve got electrification and all these other things.

LFK: That’s the truth. Makes it much better. 

NS: I know you deal a lot in your blues with love lost and found, and I see you’ve got a song called “Standing at Your Door.” 

LFK: Exactly, standing out there at the door, and she don’t want to open the door. Left me out there howlin’ like a hound. 

“Standing at Your Door” Little Freddie King 

        American Routes Live Recording at Marigny Studios

To hear the full program, tune in Saturdays at 5 and Sundays at 6 on WWNO, or listen at americanroutes.org.

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