For Mark Gamsjager, guitarist and singer of the Lustre Kings, work life is pretty good right now. His Albany NY-based rockabilly band gigs about 150 dates a year. The versatile unit performs club dates, concerts, and festivals and supplements the rest with weddings and special events. Throw in a newly recorded Luster Kings CD and you can say he is already living the life of a King.
“I manage the band and I have a day job as a school bus driver,” Gamsjager said. “Other than that I work on my guitar playing and singing which keeps me busy.”
The Lustre Kings bring their heralded brand of East Coast rockabilly to Grand Rapids on June 26 in an 8pm show at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill.
Gamsjager is the first to admit he’s not been much of a songwriter. Performing pure DNA songs from the lexicon of American music is really where he’s at.
“My hat is off to anyone who can write quality material,” Gamsjager said. “But there’s so much bad stuff out there too. Maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit to try it. I just don’t have time to sit down and write 12 or 14 songs like they’re all going to be great.”
The latest CD by the group, Go Green, came out in May. Gamsjager explains how the title and material contained therein by Big Joe Turner, Johnny Horton, plus a new version of Sleepwalk, are essentially re-purposed.
“Basically I wanted to do a CD of tunes that we do live at a show,” he said. “Every time we play these songs people always ask for them, so we recorded a couple. In a way they’re kind of like recycled songs.”
You might be surprised to learn that Elvis-mania is alive and well all over the world, almost like to it never went away. Every year in January the Lustre Kings embark on a month-long Elvis Birthday Bash Tour.
“I’ve been into this kind of music since I was a kid,” Gamsjager said. “It’s ingrained in me. I am also a big fan of Chuck Berry and the blues."
Gamsjager has figured out that audiences want to hear what they’ve already heard from the band whether they’re original songs or not. But he admits it is hard work when trying to spruce up the already nattily attired.
“Overall I’d rather record and perform good songs,” Gamsjager said. “There’s a craft to that. I’m not trying to change the world I’m just trying to entertain the best way I know how.”
The Lustre Kings wsg Truckstop Cobras, 8pm, Friday @ Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill.
FB Event Page: www.facebook.com/events/923665154366758/
Lustre Kings website: www.lustrekings.com/