Luke Winslow-King stumbled across the city of New Orleans almost by chance when he found himself in Louisiana after road-tripping through California and Texas with a friend. After only a few days in New Orleans, Winslow-King’s car–filled to the brim with his instruments—was stolen while parked on Ursulines Street. He says that it was during the two or three weeks that he stuck around trying to recover his vehicle and instruments that he fell in love with the city that he now calls home.
Winslow-King grew up in Michigan playing folk music and listening to Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly and Mississippi John Hurt. He studied jazz in college but eventually realized that he was not into its sophistication and perception as musicians’ music. “It wasn’t really very good to dance to,” he says. “It was cerebral in a way. I was attracted to that at first, but then I reached a wall where I was not very inspired by it. But I loved the element of improvisation that was in jazz,” he says.
“New Orleans jazz for me is the collective improvisation,” Winslow-King muses, “it seems to represent and embody a certain people, it’s very folky, but there are also elements of improvisation, of musicians that inspire each other on the bandstand.” To him, this marriage of people’s music and improvisation is perfection, both of the things he loves coming together. His latest album, Old/New Baby, is made up of 15 original songs that fuse the traditional New Orleans music that he has come to admire with his contemporary songwriting, and transports the listener back in time.
Winslow-King’s marriage of modern songwriting and old world sound eloquently capture a sense of what he finds most beautiful—the way that people interact with, and speak to, one another. While he admits to finding inspiration in the more cliché and romanticized essence of New Orleans—the magnolia trees, the Mississippi River, the smell in the air—he finds himself most inspired by the beauty in the seemingly mundane and everyday. “There’s so much beauty in language and humanity,” he says.