On a Sunday that will feature Lady Gaga, Luke Winslow-King was the one with a poker face at Jazz Fest. On the Lagniappe Stage, he sang the blues with the relaxed, unruffled air of a man who sheds trouble before it weighs him down.
Winslow-King created that impression with stylishly creased gray slacks and a dark blue shirt with its long sleeves buttoned at the wrists despite the heat and humidity. But King’s voice is a warm, airy instrument that makes everything sound like it was no big deal. Because of that, subtle fluctuations in his singing carry emotional weight.
Similarly, Winslow-King’s more playful than his delivery might suggest. “Fish Ain’t Biting” swung playfully, but the clearest tip as to how to take the song came when violin plater Matt Rhody played the “Popeye” theme during a solo. On other occasions, his straight face was a front, pretending the hurt wasn’t real.
Winslow-King’s blues are a musical form more than a mood or emotional expression, and his band includes Rhody and trumpet and piano player Ben Polcer, musicians who swing and, like Winslow-King, illustrate how soft genre divisions are.
Winslow-King shows it with a straight face.