Photo by Stephen Maloney

Luke Winslow-King Brings Respect to the Booty Shaking Blues

From Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s hit “Booty” to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” and Kim Kardashian’s attempt to break the internet with a picture of her naked rear end, we’ve seen a year-long emphasis on asses in 2014.

Pre-war blues troubadour Luke Winslow-King seems an unlikely edition to the list of musicians singing about derrieres this year, but he joined that group with “Swing That Thing,” the second song off his outstanding 2014 release Everlasting Arms.

An up-tempo number that burns with the most show-stopping, foot-stomping energy found on the album, there’s no doubt that Winslow-King’s repeated command to “swing that thing” shares the main focus of “Booty” and countless other songs about the posteriors of young women.

Luke Winslow-King, Esther Rose, photo, Jason Kruppa

Esther Rose and Luke Winslow-King (Photo: Jason Kruppa)

But, true to form, Winslow-King brings something entirely different and somewhat unique to his entreaties: a healthy respect for women in general, and for the woman he’s singing to in particular.

“You know I love you baby,” Winslow-King sings. “Love the way you swing that thing. Gonna give you my Grandma’s diamond ring. Make you Mrs. Esther King.”

That’s quite the permanent “hook up.” It should come as no surprise that the object of Winslow-King’s entreaties is his wife, bandmate, and constant companion Esther Rose King.

“I wrote the song backstage at a show in Rome,” Winslow-King said. “I was kind of warming up before the show, playing this riff on the guitar, and Esther started dancing. I was really trying to get her to hop – trying to get her to dance more vigorously to the rhythm – so it was a groove that was inspired by dancing.”

As for the declarations of commitment, that was a case of art imitating life.

“Esther and I had just gotten engaged in Belgium the week before,” he said. “I wrote the song around where we were at the moment. My grandmother’s name was Esther King, and I inherited her diamond ring that my family gave to me to offer to Esther for our wedding, and Esther’s name became Esther King.”

So while the song is definitely about booty shaking, it is underpinned by this sense of genteel respect and commitment leading directly from the dance floor to the marriage chapel.

What makes it perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that Winslow-King specializes in the blues, a sometimes gritty artform that isn’t always known for restraint, respect, or commitment.

“I’ve never been one to want to sing songs about objectifying women,” Winslow-King said. “From my own perspective, I’m not really into those dirty blues, like the John Lee Hooker kind of stuff. That’s one kind of blues, but there are other people that you can look to that have a great amount of character and are respectful and are quality human beings. One person I always look to is Howlin’ Wolf.”

The contrast between the comparatively button-down life of Howlin’ Wolf and the “Hoochie Coochie Man” Muddy Waters can be seen as guideposts along two different paths, according to Winslow-King.

“I think you can be tough and rocking, and you can be cool, and you can be an expressive bluesman from both perspectives,” he said.

For Esther King, her husband’s on stage persona, writing style, and focus on the wholesome are all reflections of his real life.

So It’s only natural that what could have easily been just another booty shaking song is instead a reflection of love and commitment.

“Luke just is that way,” she said. “He just is a strong, loving person who has the long vision in his mind.”

  • Jef Jaisun

    Loved his set at Crescent City Blues Fest.