Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Meet Otis Taylor, banjo bluesman
I apologize for light posting of late during these hazy days of summer. But I have been busy behind the scenes writing various features. In today's Pop Matters, I have the lead story: an interview with bluesman Otis Taylor.
He's not your typical blues musician. Refreshingly, Taylor shies away from 12-bar shuffles about men sitting on the bayou, crying about cheatin' women who done them wrong. For starters, Taylor's favorite instrument is the banjo. And he's more likely to write a song about a migrant ranch hand forced to return to Mexico, or a short-lived love affair between an 8-year-old black boy and a white girl from school.
The latter song, titled "I'm Not Mysterious," appears on Taylor's new album, "Pentatonic Wars and Love Song." He told me it's based on his own formative experience.
"When I was a little kid, a little girl told me she was going to send me a love note. I was 3rd or 4th grade. She was a white girl. I followed her home to see where she lived. ‘Whoah, let me find out about this, buddy. It’s pretty exciting, you know?' Then, when I met her at the door two days later, she took me home. I never saw her again. That was the early '50s, so that wasn’t going to happen."
That sort of true-story lyric, married with a wide range of musical influences, makes Taylor unique in a genre where conventions have become cliches. Take a listen below...