by Stephen Pitalo
Lori King did not grow up on bluegrass.
“When I met [husband and bandmate] Joe, he told me he played in a bluegrass band and I had no idea what that was,” Lori explained, “so I asked him if that was like Hee Haw, and he said, well, sort of!”
But after just a few bluegrass festivals across Iowa in the 1990s, Lori was hooked on the sound.
“Joe took me to my first bluegrass festivals that fall in Knoxville and then in Drakesville where we currently live now. I was hooked instantly on the music. I had always sung but never played an instrument. When we attended a festival in Ft Madison IA in 1994 the running joke was ‘here, hold this — an upright bass — I will be right back.’ And then the bass player wouldn’t return! Joe showed me three chords to play on the bass in the key of G, and I’ve been playing ever since!”
After five years of playing and singing at local music festivals and jams, she joined a group in 1999 and became a driving force behind Bluegrass Addiction.
“I wanted to be in that band from the first time I heard them,” King said. “I loved the harmonies and energy of the band!”
“I love how bluegrass music uses the harmonic voices and instruments to tell the story,” she explained. “Also, you meet lots of people who become your close friends, and it seems much like a family reunion when you see each other at the festivals and events!”
Ironically, King is very upfront about her own struggles with addiction in the past and said that the reflection involved in her recovery has fueled her creativity through truth and faith. She serves as an inspiration for those with similar struggles.
“I’m a recovering drug addict, and I used methamphetamine in my 20s. I’ve been clean since March 15, 1992. I’m not ashamed of my past and I’ve worked very hard to become the person I am today. I still have struggles, and I fight the demons of low self-esteem and mental health issues at times, but I face them head-on, and deal with it as it comes. At times, I can be very emotional, and I have written songs that I truly believe came from somewhere inside the struggles and my process of working through all of that.”
Lori loves to play.
It shows on stage and in any room she occupies. One becomes charmed by her infectious personality, especially during performance.
“I have several songs I love to sing,” said King of her favorites she currently performs, “but ‘The Gospel According to Luke,’ has such a great message, and ‘Timber, I’m Falling In Love’ is a country song I heard Patty Loveless do in the 90s that I love, but we do it fast and bluegrass style.”
To learn more about Lori King, visit Junction 63