As they say on Let’s Make A Deal, do you want what’s behind Door #1, Door #2 0r Door #3? The Taj Mahal Edition for blues music collectors appears below
Record Store Day 2013
Taj Mahal and SONY Legacy Recordings announce the release of The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal and The Natch’l Blues on vinyl for Record Store Day 2013.
Collectible Grade: RECORD STORE DAY FIRST’ RELEASE. These are titles that you can find on Record Store Day at Record Store Day participating stores. So if you’re a fan of the artist, you get first listen. At some point in the future, generally four to six weeks, these titles will be available, in the same format, at other retailers.
Behind Door #1 – The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal
Two 12″ 180-gram vinyl LPs in an individually numbered gatefold jacket – Amazing studio demos chronicling the early years of the American bluesman Taj Mahal.
Behind Door #2 – The Natch’l Blues
12″ 180-gram vinyl in an individually numbered jacket – Taj Mahal’s breathtaking second album, originally released in 1968, showcased a band featuring Al Kooper and Jesse Ed Davis while introducing a generation to deep blues classics like “Corinna,” “She Caught the Katy (and Left Me a Mule to Ride),” and “The Cuckoo.”
Door #3 – The Complete Columbia Albums Collection
The box set includes both prizes behind Door #1 and Door #2 along with 11 other vinyl recordings.
I have been a fan of Taj Mahal’s eclectic sound for 45 years. I am partial to his earliest recordings beginning with Taj Mahal’s first recording with Columbia Records released in 1968. He is without provocation “the” consummate blues-man.
A master harmonica player, electric guitar player, national steel guitarist with the ability to drop just the right sound required for each song. He’s quoted on the liner notes as saying,
“This is the music I feel at home with. Now I really dig Dylan, but I don’t play much of that. Dylan, though, he’s one of the twentieth-century greats: Dylan… the Beatles… Jomo Kenyatta. “I got more heros than Wild Bill Hickok had notches on his belt.” He later mentions that this record is recorded mostly live. “None of that goin’ in and overdubbing something you did two weeks ago.”
Taj Mahal – Guitar, Music Arranger, Harp, Vocals, Slide Guitar
The Fairfield Theatre Company is a true class act. They e-mail you an evening guide that informs you about the specifics and logistics for the event. The guide shares a listing of local restaurants that offer discounts to ticket holders.
It was really good to see the Taj Mahal Trio perform. Taj Mahal has a very immediate style and epitomizes the blues with his unique voice. He took the stage with his trio and went right to work playing f without being announced. I found that method very engaging. His set was a great combination of the blues and world music. He was ably backed by Bill Rich on bass and Kester Smith on the drums .
Taj played my favorite song of his, “Fishing Blues” with great aplomb. He mentioned fishing for blues and stripers in the Hous (short for the Housatonic River) and the place went nuts. It was a great tip of the hat to our local fishing business, as Taj is a world-class sports fishing professional.
Los Lobos, from East L.A. took the stage next and started their set acoustically playing acoustic songs from Acoustic En Vivo. They played Rosemary and my personal favorite track, “Saint Behind The Glass” magnificently. I have seen Los Lobos eight times in concert now and I must admit they are always exciting, creative with their music.
Their set was a mixed potpourri of their musical catalog. Cesar Rojas led us through “Yo Canto” which is a very danceable number.
Their regular drummer Cougar Estrada couldn’t join them on this tour as his wife is close to having their baby. David Hidalgo’s son (who is also the Los Lobos guitar roadie), David Hidalgo Jr. sat in on the drums. Louie Perez also drummed on two numbers as well.
This was the first concert I could hear Steve Berlin the best on keyboards and saxophone. I like how Steve accent’s Los Lobos sound with his riffs.
David Hidalgo played a Gold Les Paul Gibson and played the accordion on several songs. I find when Los Lobos plays songs that express their musical heritage, sung in Spanish I get a chill. They command my immediate respect as their music shows their culture.
The encore was a special treat as Los Lobos invited Taj Mahal to jam with them and jam he/they did. A fellow fan, Frederick Matt shot this video from the second row in front of me last night. It captures the spontaneity of Taj with Los Lobos singing “Lucille” by Little Richard. They ended their three song encore with “Guantanamera” which featured bassist Conrad Lozano on lead vocal.
I also wanted to share the art piece we have hanging in our foyer that Los Lobos signed for us last summer in New Haven after their concert on the green. Ain’t it cool, it was Rosemary’s idea to have them all sign this kerchief after the show.
Taj Mahal is ever-expanding his musical capabilities with rich textures gathered from across the world stage. Taj ranges with natural motion from the blues, through calypso, diving into reggae and swaying us like palm trees with island music.
It has been 37 years since I last saw Taj Mahal perform live at The Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Ct on October 30, 1974. I spent quality time with Taj Mahal that evening as I interviewed him for a local music magazine. He played a National Steel Guitar underneath the interview as we talked in his dressing room. Sitting right outside his dressing room that night was James Cotton who joined Taj Mahal softly on his harp. That is one of my fondest backstage moments when two pivotal blues musicians broke out in improvisational song as background accompaniment in my presence.
I also saw Taj Mahal open for the Mahavishnu Orchestra at Staples High School in Westport, Ct. 1973. Taj Mahal had Howard Johnson on Tuba with him that evening and Taj’s set was reminiscent of The Real Thing recorded live at The Fillmore East in 1971.
My lovely wife Rosemary purchased tickets to see Taj Mahal and Los Lobos live at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Ct. on Saturday February 19th. My modus operandi before I attend a concert is to immerse myself in that artist’s music and read as much as I can about them and their art. I enjoy researching the artist’s Web pages, catching up on what has been written and learned about the artist. Its going to be both fun and a challenge assimilating Taj Mahal’s 40+ year legacy in the next 10 days 😉 Thankfully I have Zune to help me do that 😉
When I attended the University of New Haven(1972-1974) I took a music course that covered the blues extensively. I chose to write my term paper that semester about Taj Mahal. Having established a nice working relationship with Ed NaHa at Columbia Records in New York City, I availed myself of CBS Record’s research department utilizing press release and extensive artist background information files. Ed was a tremendous help to me in 1973 and 1974 when I needed background information on Mahavisnhu John McLaughlin and Taj Mahal. Ed made me feel right at home at the Big Black Rock as CBS was known as in those days. He understood it was my desire as a student majoring in business and minoring in music that I wanted to work for CBS Music when I graduated. That dream never did materialize for me but I always stayed in direct touch with music as best I could over the years.
So today’s WordPress post is dedicated to old friends and the ever unfolding music of Mr. Taj Mahal. 🙂
Taj Mahal’s latest recording is Maestro, give it a listen soon 😉