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VISITING ACT: Kudzu Kings

When We Were Kings: Rejuvenated Kudzu Kings

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"Streetwalkin'" from live demos
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Considered shaggy royalty within the Mississippi band scene, the core members of Oxford-based ensemble The Kudzu Kings have reunited for a series of concerts. Many of their old fans from their heyday look forward to hearing their flexible funk/country style again.

"We're tied pretty close with that jam band community mostly because we've shared so many of the players," says bassist Dave Woolworth [former Kings guitarist George McConnell was officially named as the new lead guitarist in Widespread Panic for a brief period]. "Stylistically, I think it's interesting that we were tagged as a jam band. I think it's split up pretty evenly between songs and instrumentally based things. I think it's more like what Merle Haggard used to do than something Phish might do.

"We were bastard stepchildren of alt-country," Woolworth adds. "But we never fit the bill."

Formed in 1995, the Kings' guitar-heavy "chillbilly" sound pulled from honky-tonk country, classic and southern rock, blues, and jazz. Their energetic performances and red-blooded grooves solidly established the band in the region.

After years of nearly non-stop touring, however, the band almost burned out in 2003. Each band member stepped toward other musical projects. These days, everyone is busy with various band projects, but they're glad to reconvene.

The current lineup includes Woolworth, guitarist Tate Moore, keyboardist Robert Chaffe, guitarist Max "Ketchup" Williams, and drummer CD Overton.

"The deal is ... none of us really hate each other enough not to do it," laughs Chaffe. "We're psyched about these shows."

"We didn't take a break for 10 years, so when we finally got off, we realized how exhausting it was," adds Woolworth. "Now, we take effort to do it properly. The main goal is getting out, playing, and really enjoying it. As much as we can manage and afford it, that's the main goal. If people are excited about it, things happen." —T. Ballard Lesemann

The Kudzu Kings share the stage at the Pour House on Fri. Aug. 1 with Dangermuffin and on Sat. Aug. 2 with The Granfalloons. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission in $12 ($10 adv.). See www.myspace.com/kudzukings and www.charlestonpourhouse.com for more.

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