Hot. Sweaty. Raw. Soulful. King James & The Special Men sound like New Orleans on wax, and they represent the Crescent City like no other. Rhythm & Blues ("Rock and Roll", as it's referred to outside of New Orleans) was born in "The City That Care Forgot" during the late 40's/early 50's in the years after WWII, and these indeed special men are doing everything possible and impossible to not only keep it alive, but make it strong, vibrant, and relevant to contemporary devourers of great music everywhere. How do they do it? With high-powered live shows peppered with obscure New Orleans classics and a steady stream of well-informed original recordings.
"The champions of New Orleans classic R&B…" -- Alex Rawls, My Spilt Milk
Maintaining a residency at their 9th Ward headquarters BJ's Lounge, King James & The Special Men have cultivated a healthy reputation far and wide as a "must see" act for travelers to New Orleans. The group has also been known to take the show on the road everywhere from cozy, backwoods juke joints to esteemed venues such as Lincoln Center in New York City in the summer of 2013, and the Santa Monica Pier with the inimitable Mr. Charles Bradley in the summer of 2014.
"…the usual suspects gathered…to see one of (New Orleans') premier bands, King James & The Special Men. …As the first few bars of sweaty rhythm and blues hit the room, what had at first seemed like a random collection of disconnected souls became a unified and joyful mass. Many began to dance, on their own with palpable abandon and in pairs, the boys swinging the girls around the makeshift dance floor, as if we'd all teleported to some out-of-the-way roadhouse from the 50's." -- Lizzy Goodman, New York Times
Of late, the band's status as "one of New Orleans' best kept secrets" seems to be changing rapidly. It's weekly shows in New Orleans are routinely packed, and after the band's last songs play out in the wee, wee hours, you will find the same words on everybody's lips, whether local or globetrotter:
"You gotta see The Special Men!"