Fread Eugene Martin was born in McComb, Mississippi in 1940. He rode the rails to New Orleans in 1954 to pursue his musical career. Throughout the 1960’s, he played at all of the juke joints around the Big Easy and toured across Europe with John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley. After playing bass guitar for blues legend Freddie King while King played a gig in New Orleans, club owners kept asking Martin if he was King’s son. Finally, one of the owners said that ‘we’re going to make you a King,’ and began to bill Martin as Little Freddie King, from then on the nickname stuck.

Little Freddie King became a sought-after player in the New Orleans blues scene by the 1970’s. He played at the first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1970 and hasn’t missed one yet. In 1971 he recorded his first album, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Blues’, then released the follow-up, ‘Swamp Boogie’, in 1997 after teaming up with drummer, Wacko Wade. King and the band have released multiple albums since then, including ‘Chasing the Blues’, in 2012, which won the ‘Best Blues Album of the Year’ at the Independent Music Awards.

You can spot Little Freddie King a mile away with his signature colorful jacket, cream-colored sun hat, and sunglasses. The blues legend has a worn and soulful voice. His music is heartfelt and energetic and as unique as he is. You can still find him playing at jazz festivals, the annual French Quarter Festival, and around New Orleans. He holds a spot at the cigarette smoked filled corner bar, BJ’s Lounge, in the Ninth Ward.

King is a cultural treasure in Mississippi and Louisiana. There is a ‘Mississippi Blues Trail Marker‘ in his old hometown of McComb, Mississippi that honors him. He’s one of the last remaining legends from the original New Orleans blues days and is considered the last of the great gut-bucket Blues guitar players. Along with his band, Wacko Wade, Scott Craver, and Robert Louis diTullio Jr., King can still be found strutting across the stage as the undeniable monarch of the Crescent City blues scene. Fread Martin became a King indeed.

{photo credit: David Grunfeld / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE}

Who makes the best red beans and rice?

My drummer’s wife, Barbara. She does the best seasoning, doesn’t overcook the beans, they are just right for the taste buds. Man, they good.

What types of memories are brought up when you have red beans and rice?

I usually think about the person that fixed them. About, how much work goes into preparing red beans and rice. It is all about the seasoning and which meat you add for flavor.

What’s your process for cooking red beans?

I personally use the dry red beans, soak them for 4-hours, put on a boil for 1-1/2 hours then add my meat: ham shank is my preferred, celery, garlic, chopped onion, parsley, bay leaf. Stir and let it cook for 6-hours on a very low fire, so they come out “creamy”. I don’t like them “wet”.

Do you prefer dried beans or canned beans?

Dried beans only, because you can always add into the dry beans. You can not add canned beans and try to change the favor. That’s just the way I see it.

Do you use a certain type or brand of rice?

WaterMaid, extra long grain.

Are red beans only for Monday?

I eat them once a week but do not hold to the Monday legend. Never know when I am going to get the hunger for Red Beans and Rice.

What are you working on?

I am back to playing my guitar and booking gigs to pay the rent, after my bike accident.

I will be at Little Gem’s Saloon on Rampart for Sunday Brunch during January 2018. Heading to Italy for the Umbria Winter Jazz Festival in Orvieto, Italy – outside Rome. Just educating people on the real “gut-bucket” blues, delta style.

For more information on the blues legend, Little Freddy King, his music, and where he’s playing, please visit his website  If you’re in New Orleans, see King play and BJ’s Lounge and don’t miss out on one of the true greats!

{photo credit: Alex V Cook}

BJ’s Lounge is located at 4301 Burgundy Street, New Orleans, LA 70117. They are a cash-only bar featuring a lineup of live local bands or sports on the TV.

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Keep the red beans cookin’!


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