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Monday, May 29, 2017

Taj Mahal at 75

I must have first heard Taj Mahal on record at my Cousin Elliott's sometime in the early 70's, and I remember immediately being impressed by his deep rough voice and authentic finger picking style. From very early on, he had his own unique style, his own lovely arrangements of classic Blues songs, as well as things he adapted, rewrote, or wrote from scratch. Taj has always been the real thing - a true original in the framework of traditional and Folk Blues.

It was only a couple of years later that I had the pleasure of hearing him live at the Mariposa folk festival in Toronto and then at a few more festivals...

Over the decades since the 70's, Taj has continued to explore different facets and streams of Blues and Folk music, including some of his Caribbean roots. He has performed all around the world, and put out many different kinds of albums from acoustic duets to full acoustic bands with horns, to completely electric bands, each album completely different from the previous one ...

Last week Taj Mahal turned 75 years old, and he doesn't appear to be slowing down much, as he just released a new album and embarked on a concert tour, collaborating with Keb' Mo' on their joint project "TajMo".

The last time I saw Taj in person was on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise of January 2006 in the Carribean, where, aside from performing with his famous Phantom band, he would hang out on the deck by the pool, with a big cigar, and chat with anyone who wanted to sit down for a bit...always a great dresser, Taj seems to like hanging out with some of his audience and have long chats...

Happy 75th Birthday Taj!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Robert Palmer Speaking about Blues Guitarists

"The great Blues guitarists are gifted with an acute sensitivity to the finest nuances of pitch, the subtlest differences in the attack and tone and decay of every note. In most cases, they learned when they were children to listen carefully, to size up a stranger in a few seconds by the timbre and inflection of his voice. And they play the guitar the way they listen, with an ear for the minutest details of phrasing and touch and meaning. They are great guitarists not because they can play more notes per minute than lesser musicians or because of their ability to fashion fancy, flashing phrases, but because they have a surer command of the Blues language."

Robert Palmer writing about Otis Rush, with big thanks to Libi for the bringing me the book "Blues and Chaos, the writings of Robert Palmer"

A few Pearls of Blues Wisdom

“the Blues is church, you sing about God, you don’t talk about how you felt last night.
The Blues on the other hand, is information - something that consoles, or brings peace, or some news.”
 **** James ‘Blood’ Ulmer  ****

"There is no greater thing to do than the Blues if you are a musician.
There is nothing easier or more difficult. It's a symphony of the soul, there is no question about it"

**** Sam Phillips - founder of Sun Studios and Sun Records, Memphis, Tennessee ****


“Leave your ego, play the music, love the people.”
**** Luther Allison ****