‘Guitar god’ to perform in Philly

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Whatever you do, do not ask Kaki King about her influences as a guitar player. “Oh, no,” she said. “I’m done with that question. Sorry. I can’t go there.” Given the circumstances, the 29-year-old out performer, instrumentalist and recording artist can be forgiven for her reticence. Ever since her 2003 debut, she has been lauded for her brilliant and imaginative style of expressive and percussive guitar playing — and has earned adulation from the likes of Rolling Stone magazine, which named her a “Guitar God” in 2006 — the first time the publication named a woman to the list — and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, who invited her to play in the group’s most recent album. And it goes beyond high-profile admirers: Up-and-coming songwriters also cite King as an influence. “That’s amazing,” she said. “I had no idea. That’s cool.” King has good reason to be guarded about sharing which artists inspire her. “I feel like every time I cite an influence, I get in trouble,” she said. “My influences are misleading. They’re so many and diverse that I prefer to not mention them. I feel like I should pay homage to the people that have influenced me, but there are so many. Normally, I get the shortest distance between two points is me and [New Age fingerstyle guitarist] Michael Hedges. Fair enough, but it’s not very accurate.” But she still didn’t tell us who inspires her. King has made a concerted effort over the course of her career to evolve as an artist and not be bound to any particular genre. The acoustic instrumentation of her early releases, such as 2003’s “Everybody Loves You,” have given way to a more band-oriented sound that at times incorporates electric guitars and loops. The result was well worth the effort. King’s latest, “Dreaming of Revenge,” is one of the best and most addictive albums to come across the desks of PGN all year, blending layers of hypnotic instrumentation with King’s angelic voice. King said the album has more of a sonic theme than any kind of lyrical motif. “The one thing we kept talking about was the melodies,” she said about making the disc. “Overlapping all this very intricate guitar work are these very simple, beautiful melodies that we’ve found within the original guitar pieces and brought out. I think there’s a dramatic music quality to the songs.” The Atlanta native is currently on tour with backing musicians on hand to faithfully execute the new material in a live setting. “Right now, I’m traveling with a band so I’m laying back and letting them do all the work,” she said. “Because on the record I do all the work.” King will be on the road until spring of next year, when she plans to start thinking about the next album. She said that what happens after that is still up in the air. “Not a clue,” she said on the direction of the next record. “Who knows if there will be a record industry in the spring? I’m not sure what the plan is. I feel like if you’re an artist on a major label, watch out. I think it’s going to be this big question because people used to tour and lose money but make money on the records. Record companies would give you tour support because tours are very expensive. Now the opposite has become true, where you are dependent on your tours to make money and the albums are the promotional aspect of your career. Most people aren’t making their entire bread and butter on the album. A lot of bands are rethinking their business plan and how they structure their life to figure out how they’re going to survive. I haven’t really figured out what I want to be doing and what kind of projects I want to take on.” Even with that reality on the possible horizon, King is humorously imagining the grandiose possibilities her future holds. “I’ll probably end up touring with an 18-piece orchestra or something.” Kaki King performs at 9 p.m. Nov. 7 at TLA, 334 South St. For more information, call (215) 922-1011 or visit www.kakiking.com.