Lightnin Malcolm has come to exemplify the modern day Deep Blues Guitar groove. Its a sound which traces back to the origins of blues, when a single guitarist rocked the house all night long. When these ancient droning patterns consisting of bass, rhythm, and lead syncopated together are plugged into modern sound systems and teamed up with driving drum beats, Malcolms guitar becomes larger than life, bringin state of the art primal Mississippi Juke Joint Blues to the big stage.
This sound didnt just come out of nowhere. Born in Missouri in mid 70s, Malcolm started playing his music and traveling on the road in his late teens. He lived his music, playing night and day where ever the road took him, surviving off his versatility. “Music had been on my mind since 6 or 7, but it took till my teen years to start gettin around on my own, and you know, put it into action. I played mostly solo then, playin guitar,singing, and kick and snare drums with my feet as a 1 man band.”
His travels took him all over but it was North Mississippi that he identified with most and took him in. He immediately befriended and began perfoming with many of the Legends living there such as Big Jack Johnson, Cedell Davis, R.L. Burnside, Hubert Sumlin, Honeyboy Edwards, T Model Ford, Sam Carr, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Otha Turner, Robert Belfour and many others. Over thousands of nights playing the rough and tumble juke joints, soaking up the rhythms and culture, Malcolm learned to be an alert and durable performer.
“I used to show up at juke joints solo, and they would be listenin’ to the jukebox and everybody dancin’ to Al Green, Johnnie Taylor, and Tyrone Davis. Then they would shut the jukebox off and stick me out in the middle of the floor…and man I’d be so nervous cuz the jukebox sounded so good and I didnt think they would accept or want to hear me… But this was how I was surviving and failure was not an option… You had to win them over on the first song or you wasnt gonna get another try! Guitar solos werent important but basslines and rhythm was mandatory for the dancers, and you had to sing with everything you got! And once you won them over you was bout to have the greatest night of your life!!
This rigid training ground and the help of his Legendary teachers taught Malcolm to be an intense performer, with the stamina to channel and electrify the audiences emotions. Drums are an important part of Malcolms music and over the years hes worked with the best in Mississippi including Kenny Kimbrough, Cedric Burnside, Calvin Jackson, Cameron Kimbrough and many others. Whoever is anchoring the drums, the music takes on a churning force of tribal rhythms, where both instruments push each other to new heights. “Everywhere we go people say the same thing. I cant believe its just 2 of you…You guys sound like 5 or 6 pieces!”
In 2009 Malcolm won Blues Music Award for Best New Artist and toured the world with Burnside on drums. In 2011 he released the critically acclaimed album RENEGADE, a true showcase for Malcolms developing songwriting and vocals, infusing soul, reggae, hip hop and rock into his hill country sound. 2011 also saw Malcolm serving as “musical director” on Hubert Sumlin and Honeyboy Edwards final tour of their lives, which also included rock band Big Head Todd and the Monsters.
Malcolms new album BRAND NEW OLD SCHOOL is scheduled for release in mid/late 2012, featuring slide great Luther Dickinson and memphis rapper Larry P. The 14 originals continue Malcolms signature melodic genre blending sound and direct lyrics, all deeply rooted in the Hill Country.