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American Routes Shortcuts: Little Freddie King

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

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