Coyote Kings with Mush make the cut


It's not every day coyotes get to run with the big dogs, but it's slated to happen in August for one Walla Walla band.

Coyote Kings with Mush, which delivers a mix of new blues, rock and roots music, won the first leg of Washington state International Blues Challenge at the Untapped Blues & Brews Festival in Tri-Cities in May.

In August, the band advances to state finals in Snohomish at the Taste of Music Festival.

The contest is meant to present and award up-and-coming bands, said Coyote Kings leader Robin "Barefoot" Barrett. "The only way you can be entered is through a blues society tied in The (International) Blues Foundation."

There, the Walla Walla band, which includes singer Michelle "Mush" Morgan, Curtis "Rocket" Johnson and "Mondo Mike" Cook, will compete against winners of three other primaries, Barrett explained. "Whoever wins that gets sent to Memphis in February."

The band is competing with music from a June CD release, "Move," Barrett said. Many of the scores are original, which is one of the criteria for the challenge competition. Other factors are vocal and instrumental talent and showmanship.

On that note, Coyote Kings is well covered, he said with a laugh. "We're pretty comfortable in front of a crowd. Basically, showmanship is how you interact with the audience -- are you just playing songs or are you putting on a show? We're playing like we're at a private party with (the audience)."

It's not the crowd's role to put a band at ease, Barrett said. "It's our job to present ourselves. The audience picks that up and gives it back to us. And that fuels us to go even further."

Maybe as far as Memphis, Tenn., where a win over the other big dogs could mean cash, professional guidance and gigs at the country's top fairs.


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