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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Taj Mahal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taj Mahal. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Bluelan Records artist: Janiva Magness - Change In The Weather - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Change In The Weather - Janiva Magness Sings John Fogerty, from Janiva Magness and it's vibrant. Opening with title track, Change In The Weather, Magness really pushes the tempo with strong, revival like pace and featuring Dave Darling on guitar with tight riff insertions and backed by Gary Davenport on bass, Steve Wilson on drums, Zachary Ross on guitar and dobro, and Arlan Oscar on keys. Smart opener. Someday Never Comes gets a traditional British approach with Magness taking the ballad approach on the melody and with a double time beat under the chorus. I've always been partial to Wrote A Song For Everyone with it's "Band" like rhythm. Magness shines clearly on this one with excellent backing vocals by Bernie Barlow, Dave Darling and Zachary Ross. Taj Mahal sits in of Don't You Wish It Was True with his trademark vocal and overall country blues feel. Very cool. Although Bad Moon Rising isn't my favorite track on the release, I do really like Ross' reckless side guitar work giving the track a spontaneous. Wrapping the release is possibly CCR's biggest hit, Lookin' Out My Back Door and Magness plays up the underlying country feel of the original track with her best vocals on the release. Rusty Young's dobro playing is solid and Aubrey Richmond's fiddle addition is cool with focused guitar picking by Jesse Dayton and Dave Darling. Solid closer for a cool release. 

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Ruf Records artist: The BB King Blues Band - The Soul Of The King - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Soul of the King, from The BB King Blues Band and the title hits the nail on the head. Opening with Irene Irene, Russell Jackson has the mic and Kenny Wayne Shepherd plays scorching hot guitar riffs making this an excellent opener. The hear of the band is James Boogaloo Bolden on trumpet, Eric Demmer on lead sax, Jackson on bass, Walter King on sax, Herman Jackson on drums, Darrell Lavigne on keys, Lamar Boulet on trumpet, Wilburt Crosby on guitar, Brandon Jackson on drums, and Raymond Harris on trombone. Kenny Neal is up next on Sweet Little Angel covering both lead guitar and vocal. His playing is more mellow but no less soulful as he gets a good grip on the track in BB King style. Diunna Greenleaf's supreme vocal styling is There Must Be A Better World Somewhere and Demmer literally blows the doors off with his sensational sax soloing. Excellent! Solid soul on She's The One with Demmer on lead vocal and sax. The man is hot and his sax screams... check it out! Funky, Taking Care of Business has Jackson back on lead vocal backed by Bolden and Richardson. Crosby and Demmer trade rich solos giving this track real tension over the punchy horn work. Very nice. Regal Blues (A Tribute To The King) features Joe Louis Walker on lead vocal and guitar. With a solid shuffle rhythm Walker gets the band rockin' … you can almost see BB King's softly clenched fist clapping into his extended open palm. Bolden has the lead on Pocket Full Of Money, with a nice groove. Jackson's bass line sets the tone and Lamar Boulet blows a great trumpet solo. Very cool. Wrapping the release is Michael Lee on lead guitar and vocal on BB King's classic, The Thrill Is Gone. A soulful but bouncier track than typical of King, an excellent closer for a solid release. 

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Music Maker Relief Foundation compilation: Blue Muse - Various Artista - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Blue Muse, from Music Maker Relief Foundation. This cd will accompany a photography book of the same name by Tim Duffy coming out on March 28th. Opening with an acoustic jam, The Grotto Sessions, featuring Simon Arcache on guitar, Dr. Burt, Ironing Board Sam, Etta baker, Captain Luke, Rufus McKenzie, Alabama Slim and Guitar Gabe on vocal, plus a sea of others this is raw and adventurous. Taj Mahal is up next on John Hurt's Spike Drivers Blues with his distinctive vocal and guitar styling. Very nice. Eddie Tigner is up next on vocal and piano with a great boogie, Route 66 with Matt Sickles on bass, Ron Logsdon on drums, Paul Lindon on harp and with really nice guitar runs by Felix Reyes. Excellent! No question that my favorite track on the release is Robert Finley's Age Don't Mean A Thing, the title track from the spectacular release of the same name. Dom Flemons' Polly Put The Kettle On is a great country blues with Flemons on lead vocal and harp, Ben Hunter on fiddle, Guy Davis on guitar and Joe Seamons on backing vocals. With great vocal style Algia Mae Hinton is featured on acoustic guitar and vocal performing Snap Your Fingers. Raw and pounding, I Am The Lightning, is a great track. With Willie farmer on vocal and guitar, Will Sexton on mellotron, Mark Stuart on bass, and George Sluppick on drums, this track is hot. Sweet Valentine features the beautifully harmonized vocals  of Martha Spencer and Kelley Breiding, both who contribute acoustic guitar. Very nice. Eric Clapton pairs with Tim Duffy for some real fine finger picked acoustic blues on Mississippi Blues. Guitar Gabriel's solo, Landlord Blues, is the polished edge of raw blues with solid vocals and cool guitar work. Very cool. Dripping in southern gospel, The Branchettes sing I Know I've Been Changes totally acapella. Powerful. Wrapping the release is Something Within Me featuring Theotis Taylor on vocal and piano in a very nice spiritual track with plenty of soul. This really is a super release with plenty of diverse flavor for all to savor. 

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Monday, October 15, 2018

We Save Music artist: Scott Sharrard - Saving Grace - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the latest release, Saving Grace, from Scott Sharrard and I really like it. Opening with High Cost Of Loving You, a swamp funky rocker, Sharrard shows a really soulful voice and strong guitar riffs with tastes of SRV, Clapton and Duane. Howard Grimes on drums, Leroy Hodges on bass, Charles Hodges on B3, Eric Finland on Wurlitzer, Moses Patrou on percussion, Marc Franklin on trumpet, and Excellent sax work from Art Edmaiston on tenor and Kirk Smothers on bari, this track is smoking hot. Faith To Arise is a strong ballad with supple backing vocals by Susan Marshall, with Chad Gamble on drums and David Hood on bass. Very "Allman. Soulful title track, Saving Grace, really shows off Sharrard's vocal power and presents a solid radio track with a stinger of a guitar solo. Gregg Allman's last known original track, Everyting A Good Man Needs features Taj Mahal on lead vocal and solid slide work from Sharrard. Very nice. R&B style track, Angeline has a great swing with straight ahead guitar soloing and again, mighty soulful vocals. Another strong track with a soul style is She Can't Wait and I really like it. With nice trumpet by Franklin and just the right pace this track is nicely accented by clean, bluesy guitar riffs. very nice. Hi strut on Sweet Compromise has a perfect rhythm and the bari accent work of Smothers is excellent. Sharrard steps in again with a clean, swinging guitar solo making this one of the top tracks on the release. Wrapping the release is Sentimental Fool, a track which really echoes the sounds of Taj Mahal with solid horn backing, excellent B3 and Wurlitzer work from Gamble and Finland and clean soloing from Sharrard is a solid closer. 

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Real Gone Records artist: Jesse Ed Davis - Red Dirt Boogie - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Red Dirt Boogie by Jesse Ed Davis newly released by Real Gone Music and it's a real nice slice of early 70's rock. Davis was on the who's who list of musicians with Clapton, Leon, George Harrison, Taj Mahal, the Dominoes, you name it. This release opens with Every Night Is Saturday Night from his self titled solo release. With it's communal party feel, it could easily be a part of the Mad Dogs with it's driving drum beat, New Orleans style trumpet and clarinet. Red Dirt Boogie has the swampy sound of Dr John and the vocal styling of Leon Russell. Further On Down The Road was co written by Taj Mahal and it definitely has his flavor (Think Ain't Gwine To Whistle Dixie). Davis sets up some of his best vocals on the release and has solid warm backing vocals Merry Clayton, Gloria Jones and Bobby Jones as wekk as sweet sax by Jerry Jumonvlle. Reno Street Incident has influences of both Mahal and Leon and is a strong track also from his first solo release. George Harrison's Sue Me Sue You Blues has great feel and a taste of Davis' slide work. Taj Mahal's take on Statesboro Blues featuring Davis on slide was influential on Duane Allman and his own take on the track. Another track with strong Leon features is You Belladonna You of course featuring Leon on piano. Excellent! Leon Russell's Alcatraz is great sounding so much like Leon's band...with a twist.  Great! Another terrific track is My Captain with spiritual overtones featuring Jesse on vocal, slide guitar and Leon on piano. Wrapping the release is unreleased Kiowa Teepee which certainly features a vibrant Clapton on guitar. This is a cool release that warrants a solid listen.



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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Blues Hall of Famer, GRAMMY Award winner, and Americana Music Lifetime Achievement Award winner Taj Mahal's new album 'Labor Of Love' comes out December 16 on Acoustic Sounds

TWO-TIME GRAMMY WINNER, BLUES HALL OF FAMER & AMERICANA MUSIC LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNER TAJ MAHAL’S STRIPPED DOWN ALBUM ‘LABOR OF LOVE’ OUT DECEMBER 16 ON ACOUSTIC SOUNDS

FIRST RELEASE IN FOUR YEARS SET FOR LP, FEATURES SOLO FAVORITES FROM 1998 PLUS COLLABORATIONS WITH MUSIC MAKER RELIEF FOUNDATION ARTISTS

Two-time GRAMMY Award winner, Blues Hall of Famer, and Americana Music Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Taj Mahal’s 47th album ‘Labor of Love’ will come out December 16on Acoustic Sounds.

‘Labor of Love’ features some of his most beloved materials such as the murder ballad “Stack-O-Lee,” Mississippi John Hurt’s “My Creole Belle,” the Delta standard “Walking Blues,” and the longtime live favorite “Fishing Blues.” Taj also collaborates with one armed harmonica player Neal Pattman, blind singer Cootie Stark, guitar master Cool John Ferguson (profiled in a recent issue of Premier Guitar), and Piedmont blueswoman Algia Mae Hinton. Pattman, Stark, and Baker have since passed on. Full liner notes by UNC writer Will Boone paint the full picture. All songs are previously unreleased while four of the songs have not been recorded in any other version by Taj.

Enraptured by the mission of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, Taj Mahal met MMRF head Tim Duffy in 1993 and introduced him to the Rolling Stones, BB King, Dan Ackroyd, and others; he is on the Advisory Board and has been a staunch MMRF ally and friend to Tim ever since. On a 42-date tour in 1998, Music Maker Relief Foundation head Tim Duffy set up recording equipment in whatever hotels Taj and the Music Makers were staying. Finally, in Houston, TX, Taj and the Music Makers got to playing after hours; six solo tracks were recorded along with seven tracks of Taj with Music Maker Relief Foundation artists such as National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship winners Etta Baker and John Dee Holeman. ‘Labor of Love’ is Taj’s first release in four years. Of working with those musicians, Taj says that he most enjoyed “getting to know their lives and how they made things work” while getting “closer to the source.”

In the past half decade alone, Mahal has opened for Bob Dylan, Wynton Marsalis, and Eric Clapton; performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon with the Roots; guested on new Clapton recordings; joined the Rolling Stones onstage; performed at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, CA; joined a Bonnaroo jam with Susan Tedeschi, Anthony Hamilton, Derek Trucks, Chaka Khan; and performed on the Americana Music Awards.

Raised in a West Indian-American and African-American family, Taj Mahal signed to Columbia Records and began his recording career in 1968. Since then, he has played the music of the African diaspora, drawing connections between African, Carribean, South Pacific, and Southern American culture. Bonnie Raitt said of him, "Taj is probably the most important bridge we have between blues and rock-n-roll. He's as bad as they get." Mick Jagger has called him “a living link to the old blues tradition.”

'Labor of Love' Track List:

1. Stagger Lee
2. Shortnin' Bread (with Neal Pattman)
3. My Creole Belle
4. I Ain't The One You Love (with Alga Mae Hinton)
5. Fishin’ Blues
6. Mistreated Blues (with John Dee Holeman)
7. Zanzibar
8. So Sweet (with Cootie Stark)
9. Spike Drivers Blues
10. Hambone (with John Dee Holeman)
11. Walkin’ Blues
12. John Henry (with Etta Baker)
13. Song For Brenda (with Cool John Ferguson)



"Listen"

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Buddy Guy to Headline the Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival Sept. 12 & 13




The 39th Annual Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival returns to Johnson’s Beach & Resort in Guerneville, CA on September 12 & 13, 2015. Two great festivals over one weekend – voted Best Music Festival in Sonoma Country by the readers of the North Bay Bohemian. Join us for a weekend of incredible music, dancing, wine tasting and loads of fun!

Headlining the Blues Day on Sunday, September 13
th will be the legendary award winning Blues icon, Buddy Guy, alongside friends Taj Mahal Trio, Jackie Greene and more!

Music fans can purchase Single Day & Weekend Passes to the festival and enjoy 2 stages of jazz, blues and roots music over 2 days at Johnson’s Beach – a beautiful venue surrounded by California Redwoods. The festival also features a Wine Garden with tastings from local wineries, a variety of craft & merchandise vendors plus an eclectic food court.

Tickets are available through www.russianriverfestivals.tix.com or by calling the Box Office at (707) 869-1595.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stony Plain Records artist: Eric Bibb - Blues People - New Release review

I just received the newest release, Blues People, from Eric Bibb and I think it's his best in quite some time! Opening with Silver Spoon, a primarily acoustic track rooted deeply in the delta but with hot contrasting electric blues riffs from Popa Chubby in the distance and bass and drums by Glen Scott. Excellent! Driftin' Door To Door has a bit more of the walking blues sound with nice picked and slide work from Bibb and Michael Jerome Browne. Very nice. God's Mojo is a quiet jazz framed blues track with nicely figured key work and light drums by Glen Scott. Bibbs vocals are particularly focused on this track. Turner Station has a more modern acoustic blues sound with Bibb and Browne on guitar. As the track builds more fullness appears with Scott on Hammond, backing vocals and electric keys as well as Neville Malcolm on bass. On Pink Dream Cadillac, Bibb paints a vivid story as Staffan Astner adds some tasty slide work. Guy Davis' Chocolate Man features Davis and and Bibb trading lead vocals and guitar with Scott on bass, piano and drums. Rosewood is a somber ballad with light electronic keyboards backing Bibbs articulate acoustic guitar and vocal. Rev. Gard Davis' I Heard The Angels Singin' has an almost Richie Havens feel with Browne on 12 string, Scott on bass and drums and featuring J.J. Milteau on harp and The Blind Boys of Alabama on backing vocals. Dream Catchers has an interesting reggae feel with Ruthie Foster at her grittiest and Harrison Kennedy singing lead and Sara Bergkvist-Scott on backing vocals. Very nice! Chain Reaction features Glen Scott on lead vocal with Bibb for some really nice soul style harmonizing. Paris Renita adds some really nice backing on this track giving it a real soul feeling. Taj Mahal is on lead vocal and banjo on this shot but critical, Needed Time intro. A more flowing and refined expanded track follows with Foster, Bibb and the Blind Boys Of Alabama sharing vocal duties with Scott on piano, Browne on electric slide, Paul Robinson on drums Neville Malcolm on upright bass. Also backing on vocal is Bob Manning, Ulrika Ponten on Big Daddy Wilson. Excellent! Out Walkin', again with a solid blues base but in a more contemporary form features Bibb on vocal joined by Browne on acoustic guitar. R&B track, Remember The Ones, features Linda Tillery trading lead vocal with Bibb. Scott adds a nice Hammond warmth as well as sampling horns from the Memphis horns. Andre De Lange shares the lead vocal with Bibb on African influenced Home. Astner joins on acoustic guitar and guitelele and Scott adds piano, bass, drums and percussion to this moving track. Very cool. Wrapping the release is Where Do We Go featuring a vocal duet with Bibb and Leyla McCalla who also adds banjo. Scott on Melodica and piano Astner on electric guitar and Malcolm on upright bass add to the quiet melody. A soft sensitive ballad, this is a nice track to conclude a very interesting release.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Award-Winning Roots Music Artist Eric Bibb Sings About "Blues People" on New Stony Plain Records CD, Coming November 4



Award-Winning Roots Music Artist Eric Bibb Sings About Blues People on New Stony Plain Records CD, Coming November 4

Special Guests Include Taj Mahal, Guy Davis, The Blind Boys of Alabama & Ruthie Foster

EDMONTON, AB – Stony Plain Records, one of the world’s foremost roots music labels, announces a November 4 release date for Blues People, the new CD from award-winning singer, songwriter and musician Eric Bibb. Produced by Glen Scott, who also plays several instruments throughout, Blues People includes special guest performances by Taj Mahal, Guy Davis, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Ruthie Foster (who Eric has been touring with), Popa Chubby and a number of other musicians from around the world.

The 15 tracks on Blues People include a number of Eric Bibb originals, as well as collaborations with other songwriters, plus songs written by Guy Davis (“Chocolate Man”), Rev. Gary Davis (“I Heard the Angels Singin’”) and the traditional, “Needed Time,” arranged by Taj Mahal, Eric Bibb and Glen Scott.

The concept of Blues People came to Eric Bibb, who’s won the Blues Music Award as “Acoustic Artist of the Year” and been nominated for a Grammy, when he was surrounded by his musical friends at the Blues Foundation Awards in Memphis a few years back. It inspired him to create a collection of songs about change and hope, in collaboration with many of his friends in the blues and roots music realm.

“In the introduction to his classic book, Blues People, Amiri Baraka (who published it as LeRoi Jones) wrote: ‘The path the slave took to ‘citizenship’ is what I want to look at,’” writes Eric Bibb in the album’s liner notes. “That same path, along with its continuation, provided much inspiration for this album called Blues People. This record is also a tribute to the tribe of blues troubadours that I’m grateful to be a member of and it features the talents of several friends and heroes of mine. We, who traverse the highways and skyways of the planet playing the music known as blues, have become a rainbow tribe. We hail from many lands and cultures, bonded by our love of this music and the challenge of making it our own. What began in the fields of the southern United States, became a universal treasure, cherished by music lovers the world over.
My intention with these songs is to focus on some of the history of African Americans, the original blues people, as a reminder of what we’ve been through and where the music is coming from. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my greatest heroes. The Civil Rights movement that he is synonymous with is referred to in several songs on this album. I hope these songs will remind us that Dr. King’s dream is still a work in progress – we are still not home. May the New Year bring us closer to living that dream.”

Eric Bibb, one of the highest profile international roots music artists, was raised in New York City by a musical family; his father is noted folk singer Leon Bibb and his uncle was world-famous jazz pianist John Lewis, founding member of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Legendary actor/singer/activist Paul Robeson was Eric’s godfather, and other music icons such as Peter Seeger, Odetta and Bob Dylan were known to regularly visit the Bibb household.

Eric was given his first guitar at age seven, and by the time he’d reached 16 was asked by his father to play guitar in the house band for the elder Bibb’s local New York City TV talent show.
In 1970, Eric Bibb left New York City for Paris, meeting legendary guitarist Mickey Baker, and began to concentrate on playing blues guitar. He later moved to Europe and is now based in Finland, from which he tours extensively both in the U.S. and overseas.

To watch a special video Eric Bibb created to explain the backstory about Blues People, click on this link: http://bit.ly/BluesPeopleVideo.

Eric Bibb will be touring in support of Blues People and is booked by Folklore International Artists (www.FLiArtists.com). For more information, visit www.stonyplainrecords.com and www.ericbibb.com.

Blues People Track Listing

1 SILVER SPOON - Featuring POPA CHUBBY
2 DRIFTIN’ DOOR TO DOOR
3 GOD’S MOJO
4 TURNER STATION
5 PINK DREAM CADILLAC
6 CHOCOLATE MAN - Featuring GUY DAVIS
7 ROSEWOOD
8 I HEARD THE ANGELS SINGIN’ - Featuring J. J.  MILTEAU & THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA
9 DREAM CATCHERS - Featuring HARRISON KENNEDY & RUTHIE FOSTER
10 CHAIN REACTION - Featuring GLEN SCOTT
11 NEEDED TIME - Featuring TAJ MAHAL, THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA
& RUTHIE FOSTER
12 OUT WALKIN’
13 REMEMBER THE ONES - Featuring LINDA TILLERY
14 HOME - Featuring ANDRE DE LANGE
15 WHERE DO WE GO - Featuring LEYLA McCALLA

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Highway 51 - Los Lobos with Taj Mahal


Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an American Grammy Award winning blues musician. He often incorporates elements of world music into his music. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50 year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.
Los Lobos ("The Wolves") are a multiple Grammy Award–winning American Chicano rock band from East Los Angeles, California. Their music is influenced by rock and roll, Tex-Mex, country, folk, R&B, blues, brown-eyed soul, and traditional Spanish and Mexican music such as cumbia, boleros and norteños.
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Walking Blues - Taj Mahal


Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an American Grammy Award winning blues musician. He incorporates elements of world music into his music. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50 year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.
Born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, Jr. on May 17, 1942 in Harlem, New York, Mahal grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. Raised in a musical environment, his mother was the member of a local gospel choir and his father was a West Indian jazz arranger and piano player. His family owned a shortwave radio which received music broadcasts from around the world, exposing him at an early age to world music.[4] Early in childhood he recognized the stark differences between the popular music of his day and the music that was played in his home. He also became interested in jazz, enjoying the works of musicians such as Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Milt Jackson. His parents came of age during the Harlem Renaissance, instilling in their son a sense of pride in his West Indian and African ancestry through their stories.


Because his father was a musician, his house was frequently the host of other musicians from the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States. His father, Henry Saint Clair Fredericks Sr., was called "The Genius" by Ella Fitzgerald before starting his family. Early on, Henry Jr. developed an interest in African music, which he studied assiduously as a young man. His parents also encouraged him to pursue music, starting him out with classical piano lessons. He also studied the clarinet, trombone and harmonica. When Mahal was eleven his father was killed in an accident at his own construction company, crushed by a tractor when it flipped over. This was an extremely traumatic experience for the boy. Mahal's mother later remarried. His stepfather owned a guitar which Taj began using at age 13 or 14, receiving his first lessons from a new neighbor from North Carolina of his own age that played acoustic blues guitar. His name was Lynwood Perry, the nephew of the famous bluesman Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup. In high school Mahal sang in a doo-wop group.

For some time Mahal thought of pursuing farming over music. He had developed a passion for farming that nearly rivaled his love of music—coming to work on a farm first at age 16. It was a dairy farm in Palmer, Massachusetts, not far from Springfield. By age nineteen he had become farm foreman, getting up a bit after 4:00 a.m. and running the place. "I milked anywhere between thirty-five and seventy cows a day. I clipped udders. I grew corn. I grew Tennessee redtop clover. Alfalfa." Mahal believes in growing one's own food, saying, "You have a whole generation of kids who thinks everything comes out of a box and a can, and they don't know you can grow most of your food." Because of his personal support of the family farm, Mahal regularly performs at Farm Aid concerts.

Taj Mahal, his stage name, came to him in dreams about Gandhi, India, and social tolerance. He started using it in 1959 or 1961—around the same time he began attending the University of Massachusetts. Despite having attended a vocational agriculture school, becoming a member of the National FFA Organization, and majoring in animal husbandry and minoring in veterinary science and agronomy, Mahal decided to take the route of music instead of farming. In college he led a rhythm and blues band called Taj Mahal & The Elektras and, before heading for the West Coast, he was also part of a duo with Jessie Lee Kincaid
In 1964 he moved to Santa Monica, California, and formed Rising Sons with fellow blues musician Ry Cooder and Jessie Lee Kincaid, landing a record deal with Columbia Records soon after. The group was one of the first interracial bands of the period, which likely made them commercially unviable. An album was never released (though a single was) and the band soon broke up, though Legacy Records did release The Rising Sons Featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder in 1993 with material from that period. During this time Mahal was working with others, musicians like Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Muddy Waters. Mahal stayed with Columbia after The Rising Sons to begin his solo career, releasing the self-titled Taj Mahal in 1968, The Natch'l Blues in 1969, and Giant Step/De Old Folks at Home (also in 1969). During this time he and Cooder worked with The Rolling Stones, with whom he has performed at various times throughout his career. In 1968, he performed in the film The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. He recorded a total of twelve albums for Columbia Records from the late 1960s into the 1970s. His work of the 1970s was especially important, in that his releases began incorporating West Indian and Caribbean music, jazz and reggae into the mix. In 1972 he wrote the film score for the movie Sounder, which starred Cicely Tyson.

In 1976 Mahal left Columbia Records and signed with Warner Bros. Records, recording three albums for them. One of these was another film score for 1977's Brothers; the album shares the same name. After his time with Warner Bros. Records he struggled to find another record contract, this being the era of heavy metal and disco music.
Taj Mahal at the Liri Blues Festival, Italy, in 2005

Stalled in his career, he decided to move to Kauai, Hawaii in 1981 and soon formed The Hula Blues Band. Originally just a group of guys getting together for fishing and a good time, the band soon began performing regularly and touring. He remained somewhat concealed from most eyes while working out of Hawaii throughout most of the 1980s before recording Taj in 1988 for Gramavision. This started a comeback of sorts for him, recording both for Gramavision and Hannibal Records during this time.

In the 1990s he was on the Private Music label, releasing albums full of blues, pop, R&B and rock. He did collaborative works both with Eric Clapton and Etta James.

In 1998, in collaboration with renowned songwriter David Forman, producer Rick Chertoff and musicians Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nile, Joan Osborne, Rob Hyman, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm of The Band, and The Chieftains, he performed on the Americana album Largo based on the music of Antonín Dvořák.

In 1997 he won Best Contemporary Blues Album for Señor Blues at the Grammy Awards, followed by another Grammy for Shoutin' in Key in 2000. He performed the theme song to the children's television show Peep and the Big Wide World, which began broadcast in 2004.

In 2002, Mahal appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot and Riot in tribute to Nigerian afropop musician Fela Kuti. The Paul Heck produced album was widely acclaimed, and all proceeds from the record were donated to AIDS charities.
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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jan. 2012 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise Part I - correspondent Stilladog

Hello Blues fans! They call me Stilladog. Don't ask why, there are many fitting reasons for that name.

The Bman and I have been friends for upwards of 45 years or so and we have shared a common bond in music for that whole time. Suffice it to say he has introduced me to a ton of great music over the years and I have tried to reciprocate. So he asked me to guest author some posts from time to time and help his blog readers become aware of, and familiar with, some of the great blues out there.

Having just returned from the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise earlier this week, I wanted to start off by giving you a run down on the best 7 day party on earth!

The biggest hit of the cruise was without a doubt West Coast guitarist Chris Cain. He was the artist I most wanted to see and I was not disappointed. I met him in the Crow's Nest bar the first hour I was on the ship and saw him play 3 times. Each of his shows were absolutely sizzling!

He obliterated Tommy Castro in a bit of old school "head cutting" at one of the late night jams. All of his shows were filled with passionate tasteful playing that came from both his heart and from deep in his soul.

One of his signature tunes is "Drinkin' Straight Tequila." At his last show in the Showroom At Sea (main concert stage), a gentleman politely handed me a flask of straight tequila with which to totally immerse myself in the music. But that kind of thing happens routinely when you "Bluesin' on the high seas."


Next up, the most pleasant suprise of the cruise; also hailing from the West Coast, was Cafe R&B. I unfortunately was unable to see these guys until the last night. But wow was it worth the wait! Lead singer Roach came on with what seemed to me to be a high-energy combination of James Brown and Tina Turner!! As a matter of fact if James Brown and Tina Turner had a love child it would be Roach!! And much to their credit, Cafe R&B was the only band who acknowledged and honored the passing of Blues great Etta James during the cruise.

In the set that I saw, Cafe R&B also used the percussionist from the Low Rider Band, Chuck Barber. He was fantastic on congas, timbales, and just about every other thing you can hit and make a sound with!
A close runner-up in the most suprisingly good category was Shakura S'Aida from Toronto Canada. Don't lay no Boogie Woogie on the Queen of Rock and Soul! I know that's an old song and Solomon Burke was the King of Rock and Soul. But her cover of it will make you believe Shakura can lay an honest stake to that title!
This is a really tight band with all top notch musicians not the least of which was Shakura's guitarist and frequent songwriting collaborator, Donna Grantis.
I'm not sure what I expected from Shakura. I had a few of her albums so I was familiar with most of her material. I think her stage presence, personality, and the quality of her band really took me by surprise. She is most definitely a lady who should be heard on a widespread basis much more.
I didn't get to hear much of her second set due to a pretty nasty hangover. The source of which was from hanging out with some Californians with personal access to some of the finest Mendocino County wines that they traded me in exchange for a personalized guided tour of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
So if Shakura is the new Queen of Rock and Soul, then the undisputed Queen of the Blues is now Shemekia Copeland! With Koko Taylor and Etta James passing in the past 12 months let me declare now that the blues is still in good hands with Shemekia wearing the crown!!
I first saw this young lady sing when she was 19 years old. She absolutely blew me away. I have seen her at least half a dozen times since and I always come away with my mouth wide open because she always delivers a jaw dropping performance!
On this cruise I actually got to meet and talk to Shemekia and her mother, the wife of the late great Johnny "Clyde" Copeland. They were catching a Phillip Fankhauser set in the Crows Nest. For those that don't know, Johnny Copeland mentored and brought to America Phillip Fankhauser so he could live his life dream of becoming a bluesman. Fankhauser lived in the Copeland home when Shemekia was still in high school. Their friendship is uncommon and I have noticed that Shemekia and Phillip are booking festivals together this summer.
Shemekia also guested on numerous songs during one of the 3 Phillip Fankhauser (pronounced Fawnk-houser) sets I attended. Phillip is from Switzerland and after 30 years in the music business he does not hesitate to remind his audiences to "Get my fucking name right. It's Funk Houser. Don't be putting an R in there. It's not Frankhouser."
A lot of Phillip's music is very well written and he went from a virtual unknown to Blues Main Street over the course of 7 days on the ocean! He employs a horn section on most cuts and the arrangements are really nice. I highly recommend picking up any of his albums.
The usual suspects were also present on the cruise, Taj Mahal, and Tommy Castro. At some point Castro fired all his band so this was their last gig as the Tommy Castro Band in it's current configuration. Probably best for everyone. Castro also acts as bandleader for the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue which this year featured guitarists Debbie Davies and Joe Louis Walker, and harpist Rick Estrin of Rick Estrin & The Nightcats (Formerly Little Charlie & The Nightcats).
I caught a couple sets of the LRBCR and for my money Debbie Davies stole the show. She was really fantastic. Keith Crossan on Tenor Sax (formerly of the Tommy Castro Band) always turns in a professional performance and the cruise was no exception.
In the photo at left, Keith blows out a break between scorching Debbie Davies solos on the Pool Deck stage.
There are so many artists still to talk about and so many stories to tell I've run out of time for this entry. But check back in a few days and I'll share more opinions and stories of what the Blues Cruise is like including playing the steel drums with the Mighty Dow, Calypso King of St. Maartens and other exciting stuff! And please leave a comment or question so I can focus on what interests you.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Done Changed My Way of Living - Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt


Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an American Grammy Award winning blues musician. He incorporates elements of world music into his music. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50 year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.

Bonnie Lynn Raitt (born November 8, 1949) is an American blues singer-songwriter and a renowned slide guitar player. During the 1970s, Raitt released a series of acclaimed roots-influenced albums which incorporated elements of blues, rock, folk and country, but she is perhaps best known for her more commercially accessible recordings in the 1990s including "Nick of Time", "Something to Talk About", "Love Sneakin' Up on You", and the slow ballad "I Can't Make You Love Me". Raitt has received nine Grammy Awards in her career and is a lifelong political activist.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm Gonna Move Up To The Country and Paint My Mailbox Blue - Taj Mahal



Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an internationally recognized blues musician with two Grammy Awards to date who folds various forms of world music into his offerings. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50 year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sittin' On Top Of The World - Taj Mahal & Corey Harris


Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an internationally recognized blues musician with two Grammy Awards to date who folds various forms of world music into his offerings. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50 year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.


Corey Harris (born February 21, 1969, Denver, Colorado) is an American blues and reggae musician, currently residing in Virginia. Along with Keb' Mo' and Alvin Youngblood Hart, he raised the flag of acoustic guitar blues in the mid 1990s.He was featured on the 2003 PBS television mini-series, The Blues, in an episode directed by Martin Scorsese.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

She Caught the Katy - Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt


Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an internationally recognized blues musician with two Grammy Awards to date who folds various forms of world music into his offerings. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments),
Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50 year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.



Bonnie Lynn Raitt (born November 8, 1949) is an American blues singer-songwriter, born in Burbank, California. During the 1970s, Raitt released a series of acclaimed roots-influenced albums which incorporated elements of blues, rock, folk and country, but she is perhaps best known for her more commercially accessible recordings in the 1990s including "Nick of Time", "Something to Talk About", "Love Sneakin' Up on You", and the slow ballad "I Can't Make You Love Me". Raitt has received nine Grammy Awards in her career and is a lifelong political activist.
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cakewalk Into Town


Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an internationally recognized blues musician with two Grammy Awards to date who folds various forms of world music into his offerings. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50 year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.

If you don't know Taj's early cd's you gotta check em out. They are great blues cd's.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Come Into My Kitchen- Taj Mahal


Taj Mahal doing a great job as usual...doing a Robert Johnson song.

Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an internationally recognized blues musician with two Grammy Awards to date who folds various forms of world music into his offerings. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50 year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.