Luke Winslow-King is fluent in “the language of music”.

Apart from being an outstanding guitar player – he started playing at the age of 10 – as well as a multi-instrumentalist, Winslow-King can boast having an impressive academic music background as well. Born in Cadillac Michigan, he attended the Michigan based Interlochan Arts Academy where he specialized in Jazz guitar and Bebop. LWK also studied music theory and music composition at The University of New Orleans that led to earning a scholarship to study Czech music at St. Charles University in Prague.

As diverse and interesting as LWK’s academia is, so too are his life experiences to date. It was in 2002, then 19 years old, that Luke, while part of a cross country tour of a show comprised of Woody Guthrie songs – “From California To The New York Islands” – made a stop in New Orleans and fate stepped in. While In New Orleans it happened that the troupe’s van was burglarized resulting in everyone losing their instruments. Stranded, LWK decided to stay in New Orleans, and, for all intents and purposes, remained there till 2017, at which time he relocated back to Cadillac Michigan.

LWK, who initially spent his time busking and playing various club dates both as a solo performer and backing local Soul singer John Boutte′, did move to New York for two years after Katrina; (he returned in 2007). While there, the resourceful LWK took up residence in Harlem, and used his time effectively both working as a music therapist by teaching music at The Lavelle School For The Blind in the Bronx, and writing scores for plays and movie productions. (There’s no record of any commercial success of his musical scores).

Once “back home” in New Orleans, LWK started his recording career while once again busking and playing clubs around town, and continuing to immerse himself in the local music scene. It’s safe to say that he arrived in town as primarily a Blues / Folk performer and evolved into a musician adept at blending Delta Blues, Folk, Ragtime, Americana, and primitive Rock & Roll. And all has been done with an eye to shining a light on his adopted home’s musical heritage.

LWK has released 6 albums to date, (with a rumoured 7th in the works, “If Walls Could Talk”). All reap the benefits of his well-learned, fully formed expertise in playing a number of genres. In saying that, he has honed his skills playing vintage music forms so well that there’s a possible misconception of categorizing LWK as merely an archivist / revivalist. But anyone really listening will realize very quickly that there’s enough originality in the songs that such a notion doesn’t get any real traction.

Sitting atop his playing and arrangements are LWK’s convincing vocals. Given the material, although not as rough-hewn as might be generally expected, those vocals are expressive and certainly generate the heat as required at any given time. (And when those vocals are complemented by – now ex – wife Esther Rose’s backing and harmonies, a new dimension is added; that of a divergent Appalachian feel).

All of LWK’s releases are critically acclaimed but the last 4 – all on Chicago’s independent Bloodshot Records – with LWK hitting his stride, are a cut above the rest. “The Coming Tide”, “Everlasting Arms”, “I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always”, and “Blue Mesa” all feature fine songwriting and outstanding performances, including the slide guitar work of recording partner and sometime band mate Roberto Luti of the Playing For Change Band. (LWK met Luti – who’s originally from Livorno Italy – when Luti was playing on a street corner in New Orleans). Although LWK is a formidable slide player in his own right, on recordings he gives equal time to Luti. LWK attributes Luti with teaching him to “spend my time trying to find passion out of fewer notes”. 

Following are some highlights that can be found on the aforementioned albums, and stand as proof positive that LWK’s music is always evolving:

  • “The Coming Tide” – the title song of the 2013 release, a sparse arrangement of a rural Blues number written by LWK
  • “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning” – from “The Coming Tide”; a tribute to Mississippi Fred McDowell who LWK credits with an “incredible rhythmic style that is so rough and rustic… makes you want to jump”.
  • “Everlasting Arms” – the title cut that could be easily mistaken for a traditional, hopeful “lend a helping hand” spiritual but was actually written by LWK. (You may be familiar with this song from its’ inclusion in an excerpt of “Playing For Change” on youtube)
  • “Swing That Thing” – from “Everlasting Arms”; backboned by a sweaty Bo Diddley like riff that never lets up. Written by LWK.
  • “Domino Sugar” – from “Everlasting Arms”; an overtly commercial Blues co-written by LWK and Luti, and featuring their twin slide guitars
  • “Home Blues” – from “Everlasting Arms”; a classic New Orleans Ragtime style Blues written by LWK. It would fit snugly between a couple of Leon Redbone cuts
  • “I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always” – the title cut written by LWK; an echoey “down in the bottom” Blues. Once again powered by LWK and Luti twin slides
  • “Louisiana Blues” from “I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Always Last” – heavily influenced by Howlin Wolf; written by LWK
  • “Born To Roam” – from “Blue Mesa”; an all-out rocker written by LWK
  • “Chicken Dinner” – from “Blue Mesa”; written with Lissa Driscoll; it showcases counterpoint guitars, courtesy of LWK and Luti, against an infectious Rhumba / New Orleans backbeat

And that’s just a sampling of some of the great music found throughout. (It should be noted that the album “I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always” consists of a collection of songs written after, and due to, the break-up of LWK’s marriage to percussionist and vocalist Esther Rose. It triumphs in the presentation of first-rate songs that have the desired effect without sounding self-pitying or maudlin).

Although still awaiting National acclaim – LWK currently enjoys a following in Europe – he has been celebrated in his sometime home of New Orleans. He’s been nominated 9 times for various OffBeat Magazine Awards including “Best Emerging Artist”, “Best Singer / Songwriter”, “Favourite Blues Album” for “Everlasting Arms”, and for “Favourite Blues Album” for “I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always”.

LWK’s 15 years in New Orleans served him well; as he refined his craft while the experience aided in his development of a highly personal, distinctive sound. What LWK offers up is honest, unaffected, no-nonsense, organic music – free of contrived histrionics delivered through a filter of Country Blues, Trad Jazz, Gospel, Ragtime, Folk, and good old Rock & Roll. For most people that’s more than enough.


  1. The Coming Tide
  2. Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning
  3. Ella Speed
  4. Everlasting Arms
  5. Swing That Thing
  6. Domino Sugar
  7. Home Blues
  8. I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always
  9. Louisiana Blues
  10.  No More Crying Today
  11.  You Got Mine
  12.  Leghorn Women
  13.  Blue Mesa
  14.  Born To Roam
  15.  Chicken Dinner

2 thoughts on “LUKE WINSLOW-KING

  1. Rico, your writing is getting better and better with each article. I am not familiar with LWK’s music but your story evokes such vivid visual and aural images – makes me jump right into his music! Thanks for turning me on to this guy.

    Liked by 1 person

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