[click "Play" for Otis Taylor's conversation with Susan]
Telluride Blues & Brews Festival founder/director Steve Gumble brought Taylor to town for the first time in the late 1990s and wound up becoming his manager.
“There are lots of performers playing the blues out there, but Otis is sort of reinventing it,” said Gumble. “I would describe his style as ‘hip blues.’ I have found the man’s appeal is universal: young people in the crowd like his consistent beat for dancing; older people seem to enjoy the authenticity of his lyrics on subjects ranging from personal to political. By stretching the boundaries of the genre, Otis is keeping blues fresh.”
A minimalist talking blues artist with a hypnotic beat, Taylor is the natural heir of John Lee Hooker. However, rather than being a guardian of the agony and the ecstasy of the tradition, he is a true destroyer of the form and living proof tough love works. Taylor is widely considered a maverick who has moved the genre more than a few country miles into the future. He describes his sound as “trance-blues.”
Otis Taylor’s newest recording is Clovis People, Vol. 3., released on Telarc International in May 2010. The title was inspired by a recent discovery of a cache of Stone Age tools close to Taylor’s home in Boulder, Colorado. The implements belonged to a civilization known as the Clovis people, who walked the earth briefly about 13,000 years ago and then mysteriously disappeared.
“I just thought it was a cool title,” says Taylor. “I went back to my musical past with these songs. That’s why I called it Volume 3. There really is no Volume 1 or 2. My music only goes back about ten years, but there’s something about reaching back to an earlier time and revisiting the stories of the past from a new perspective that I find compelling.”
Taylor plans to feature tracks from Clovis People during his Blues & Brews set, along with sounds from his other nine releases.
Taylor is everywhere you want to be at this year’s Blues & Brews. He performs with Chuck Campbell Friday night, September 17, 10 p.m., at the Telluride Conference Center in the Mountain Village and again Sunday morning with Chuck Campbell and the Sheryl Renee Choir, starting at 11 a.m. back on the Main Stage in Telluride Town Park.
“Don’t party too hard Saturday. You have to get up on Sunday morning to hear me with the gospel choir as back-up.”
To learn more from the anti-Dylan, a man who uses a few choice words to say a mouthful, click the “play” button and listen to Taylor’s interview.
(Otis Taylor photo by David Raccuglia)