Survey the laundry list of "great guitarists" and you'll find more testosterone than a WWF title match. Sure, Susan Tedeschi can rip a mean one. Bonnie Raitt's no slouch. But the pedestal reserved for pop culture's guitar gods is equipped with a urinal.
Enter Kaki King, a really, truly great acoustic guitarist. She doesn't sing much (although the final track on her new album, Legs to Make Us Longer, suggests she's at least open to the idea). What the former drummer does is fingerpick, strum, rub and slap the strings of her guitar. She beats it into complex and cool-as-hell instrumentals. New York City subway riders were the first to get a taste of her goods. Then there were the opening dates for Soulive, Charlie Hunter, Marianne Faithful and The Flaming Lips. Then came Late Night with Conan O'Brien, on which she played "Close Your Eyes and You'll Burst Into Flames."
It's not singer-songwriter stuff, and it's not new age. And it's pretty impressive, irregardless of being a chick playing in a genre full of dicks:
CityBeat: How'd you land the gig playing subways in NYC? What'd the tunnels teach you?
Kaki King: Playing in the subway taught me that you're only as good as the amount of time you can go without having to pee.
You've said that maybe you had a complex about being an instrumental artist. Is that because they usually starve and die a hungry death?
Instrumentalists all share the same fear: there is no worser fate than finding your own albums in the "New Age" bin in the darkest corner of a record store.
Why do you treat your guitar like a drum? You know you're supposed to strum that thing, right?
Beating up on your guitar is less risky than beating up music journalists.
How hard is it to play geetar and sing at the same time?
Most people seem to do it just fine, but for me I find it almost impossible.
Not too many chicks play guitar. Even less just play guitar as a solo instrumentalist. How is it? You know, being a chick....
Peep peep peep.
Kaki King plays at the Normal Heights United Methodist Church, 7:30 p.m. on May 22. $15-$18. 619-303-8176.