Luke Winslow King possesses the kind of quiet charisma that makes it very difficult not to want to get to know him. He arrives at the shoot, his dry-cleaned suits slung over his shoulder, wearing a crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled to just above the elbow (my favorite look on any man), all politeness with his soft-spoken “Hey, great to meet you, I’m Luke.” It’s clear he’s honed a very specific style, one that compliments both his aesthetic as a musician but also his personality; it’s vintage clean-cut classic meets slightly rumpled guitar player and totally charming. His music, too, is both nostalgic and contemporary, incorporating elements of pre-war Delta blues, folk, jazz, and rock, complemented further by his beautiful voice.
King has spent over a decade in New Orleans, the true test for anybody hoping to make a life in this city. Originally from Cadillac, Michigan, he’s earned his stripes here, not only by playing gigs on Frenchman with the best of the best, but also by getting his degree in jazz studies from UNO. In other words, Luke knows his stuff, and it shows. We sit down in the Yokum parlor room during a brief respite from the KREWE lookbook shoot and enjoy what little air conditioning there is, chatting about how much the city has changed since he moved here, how much it is changing every day. I ask him how he feels about the recent boom of new restaurants, venues, people and music that has pervaded the city in the past few years. He tells me that in a city that is celebrated so much for its strength of character and its versatility, change is always welcome, because it is what makes New Orleans different. Specifically, Frenchman street is, for Luke, a place to call home, a place where he found his niche: “the artists, the musicians, the venue owners and bartenders down on Frenchman, they’re my krewe,” he says.
Luke being a transplant himself, he makes it clear to me that the open-mindedness and kindness of New Orleans’ residents is what makes it so appealing to make a life here, not to mention the inimitable style and culture. I have to agree, and though my skepticism about such sudden change is hard to shake, seeing how seamlessly someone can enmesh themselves into and ultimately improve a culture as unique as ours is inspiring, and this is exactly what Luke has done.