This week we continue our dive into the archives with a show that features musical guests Christone “Kingfish” Ingram from Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms from Portland, Oregon. Nick also sits down with Nona Yehia, co-founder and CEO of Vertical Harvest to discuss the virtues of vertical greenhouse farming.
Christone ”Kingfish” Ingram
Upon its release in 2019, Kingfish debuted on the BillboardBlues Chart in the #1 position and remained on the chart for an astonishing 91 weeks. In addition to receiving a GRAMMY Award nomination, Kingfish was named the #1 Best Blues Album of The Year by UK tastemaker magazine MOJO. Ingram’s lead single, Fresh Out (featuring Buddy Guy) was the most played song on SiriusXM’s highly regarded Bluesvillechannel. Kingfish was also #1 on Living Blues magazine’s Top 50 Albums of The Year Radio Chart. The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Guitar World, and many other publications shared the joy of their musical discovery with their readers. Kingfish was even interviewed by Sir Elton John for his Apple Music Rocketman podcast.
As soon as Ingram’s sophomore release, 662, dropped in July 2021, fans, critics, and radio stations showered the album with praise. Like Kingfish, it debuted at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart. Ingram appeared on NPR’s World Café and Mountain Stage, and the album’s title track became a “Top Tune” for trendsetting radio station KCRW (Los Angeles). MOJO selected 662 as the Best Blues Album of The Year, while NPR Music said Ingram’s playing is “astounding…it’s almost like he’s singing through the guitar.”
662 won the GRAMMY Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album, won the Blues Music Award for Best Blues Album, and topped both the DownBeat Critics’ Poll and the Living Blues Critics’ Poll. Since his 2019 debut, Kingfish has been nominated for a total of 10 Blues Music Awards and has won them all. He’s also won 11 Living Blues Awards. In 2022, Ingram enlisted indie rapper Big K.R.I.T. for an imaginative and moving remix of his track Another Life Goes By (Mississippi Mix). Ingram’s original song and accompanying video candidly explore systemic racism, and what it means to grow up Black in America.
Ingram’s journey began in the city of Clarksdale, in Coahoma County, Mississippi, just 10 miles from the legendary crossroads of Highways 61 and 49. Born to a family of singers and musicians, he fell in love with music as a child, initially playing drums and then bass. At a young age, he got his first guitar and quickly soaked up music from Robert Johnson to Lightnin’ Hopkins, from B.B. King to Muddy Waters, from Jimi Hendrix to Prince. Through classes at the Delta Blues Museum, he learned the history of the blues and the basics of how to play them. Under the tutelage of Richard “Daddy Rich” Crisman and the late Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry, he not only developed his own playing sound and style, but also earned his “Kingfish” moniker, courtesy of Mr. Perry. From the classrooms of the Delta Blues Museum, Kingfish progressed quickly as a musician, playing Clarksdale’s famous Ground Zero Blues Club and Red’s Lounge stages before beginning to travel the U.S., and abroad, all while still in high school. The young guitarist performed at the White House for First Lady Michelle Obama as part of a delegation of student musicians from the Delta Blues Museum. By age 16, he was turning heads and winning awards, including the 2015 Rising Star Award, presented by The Rhythm & Blues Foundation.
Ingram’s appeal beyond blues was immediate. Even before he cut his debut album and while still a teenager, he garnered millions of views of his YouTube live videos. He performed two songs in Season Two of the Netflix show Luke Cage, after the series’ lead producer saw one of his videos. The success of Luke Cage led Ingram to perform on an NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert with rap legend Rakim. In 2020, Ingram was invited back to headline his own Tiny Desk Concert.
Sparked by his non-stop touring, writing and recording schedule, Kingfish’s natural talent just keeps growing. With his jaw-dropping guitar playing and his reach-out-and-grab-you-by-the-collar vocals, he performs every song with unmatched passion and precision. With both Kingfish and 662, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram delivered contemporary blues music that spoke to his generation and beyond, bringing to bear the full healing and hopeful power of the blues. Now, Live In London captures Kingfish’s lightning in a bottle. It’s an onstage snapshot of the young singer, songwriter and guitarist creating musical magic in real time, leaving his listeners spellbound and always wanting more.
Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms
Dust off your boots and gather around for some true and original modern honky tonk music. An all-star cast of master musicians backs these two soul singers of country music, Caleb Klauder and Reeb Willms. These two are known to roots music fans across the globe for their soulful harmonies, driving dance tunes, classic original songs, and commitment to the raw truth of rural American music. They live in the San Juan Islands of Washington, though until recently, home was Portland, OR. They are foundational to the exceptional old-time and country music scene in the Pacific NW with the Caleb Klauder Reeb Willms Country Band and their membership in the Foghorn Stringband, of which Caleb was a founding member. Charismatic performers, they bring their unique set of talents to the stage with an eye towards good times and an ear towards the deepest songs and tunes.
Caleb Klauder and Reeb Willms both originally hail from Washington State: Caleb from the coastal islands, and Reeb from the high desert plateau. The two have come together in music and are hailed as some of the most compelling musicians making country roots music in America today. When these two sing together, their honest incantations leave us spell-bound and smiling.
Their repertoire is made up of original songs and tunes as well as gems from American roots repertoires, and the music they make is Americana in the truest sense of the word. Music is clearly in their blood. Caleb and Reeb’s originals and interpretations of songs have been covered and recorded by many performers and their musical presence reaches into a diverse and loyal fanbase, giving creedance to the impact that this duo has on their listeners. Pillars of the Northwest music scene, they carry the torch of their music around the world, and can be found touring as a duo, as well as with the Foghorn Stringband, and the Caleb Klauder Country Band. Their fans exude admiration for the timeless sound that these two produce, capturing the essence of American roots music.
Sometimes we get so unnecessarily swept up in who’s rising and falling in music these days that the sheer joy of music is overlooked. One of the great things about Caleb and Reeb is that they are a world apart from all of that nonsense and let you immerse yourself in the melody and story of classic sounding country music until all other cares of life fade away. Country music is the music of working people who use it to pass the time and forget about the ever-present hardships in their lives. After years of touring together, Reeb and Caleb work intuitively.
Caleb’s study and understanding of roots music is so dedicated and rich, that he can hauntingly immerse himself in the same perspective of those old primitive country composers and write as if he was right beside them. Their album Innocent Road includes a clutch of lovingly arranged Klauder originals, along with well-placed and rare covers. The pair bring the spirit of legendary country duos into their contemporary takes on country music. Trading vocals back and forth, they complement each other strikingly well in an attractive meld of honky-tonk that brushes shoulders with trad bluegrass. Caleb has penned over 50 songs many of which are standards across America in honky tonk and bluegrass jams and festivals, both on and off stage. There is a long list of bands and singers who have recorded Caleb’s songs over the years.
The blend of true harmonies, the sharply-written country songs, and the un-showy authenticity strike a rich vein that makes them seem like they are born and raised in Music City. They quietly pursue a musical vision without much of a care for what’s expected or in vogue at the time. There’s a lot to admire in this singular perseverance and honesty.
Nona Yehia is the CEO and co-founder of Vertical Harvest. An architect by training, and already a partner in a successful design firm, Nona conceptualized Vertical Harvest in 2010 with co-founder Caroline Croft-Estay, to be North America’s first vertical hydroponic greenhouse and a pioneering enterprise focused on inclusive, customized employment for people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.
After 5 diligent years of raising money and partnering with the city of Jackson Hole and state of Wyoming, Vertical Harvest opened its doors in 2016 with Nona as CEO. She has since overseen the team’s path to profitability and innovated a unique business model at the intersection of climate, food security and equitable employment. Vertical Harvest’s emphasis on maximizing social impact has helped Nona and team become exemplars of conscious capitalism. In 2020 CNN named her a Champion for Change and in 2021 Vertical Harvest was included in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas in both their Food and Social Justice categories. Her experiences growing up with a brother with developmental disabilities, love of fresh and local food, obsession with great design, and long-standing community involvement, has turned her original passion project into a thriving business set to scale to 10 additional farms over the next 5 years. And it’s her organic connection to all aspects of the enterprise that continues to fuel Nona’s insight into the business and her dynamic leadership style.
She holds an M.A. in architecture from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, and a B.A. in architecture from the University of Michigan. But her most enduring credentials are her fierce optimism, ability to champion potential, and inspire people from wildly different walks of life to rally around a common cause. Her ability to connect people with ideas and move them to action is the engine behind Vertical Harvest’s success.