With the birth of Blues411 I haven’t been hitting the streets much, so on Wednesday I decided to head on down to the Dinosaur BBQ (where the music is always free) and catch a performer whom I had seen briefly in Memphis at the BMA’s, Joanne Shaw Taylor.
This was not an easy decision, see the Baseball playoffs were starting that night and the Yankees were in Minnesota playing the Twins. With the Yankees suddenly limping into the playoffs, it would be the crucial first game and they would need me to support their effort thru the magic of television. But off I went, hoping for the best of both worlds.
In case you didn’t know, Ms. Taylors’ 2009 release ‘White Sugar’, on Ruf records, was nominated in the Best New Artist Category. This was an honor she shared with an impressive group of other artists such as Greg Nagy, Marquise Knox, The California Honeydrops, and the winner, Monkey Junk. So this young lady has some pedigree as a Blues player.
With a good crowd eagerly awaiting her opening notes, the level of expectancy was palpable and the chatter was focused on what might be in store for us tonight. So up upon the stage appears a slightly built, almost waif like, blonde young lady that exploded with an torching instrumental opening number. ‘Awe struck’ might be an apt phrase for how the crowd reacted to what she was putting down. A smile from her face, and how’s everyone doing tonight, led straight away into renditions from White Sugar. Hearing Albert Collin & Stevie Ray Vaughn influences filtered thru this young lady’s musical ear, had the crowd yelling for more, and moving right up to stage side for a closer look at this wunderkind of a Blues player.
With the fact of the latter statement, I must admit I was shut out somewhat from viewing her pyro-technics, but it did give me a chance to snag a peek at the Yankees-Twins game; not good. Yankees down three-zero, I decided that I needed to get closer to the action on stage and let events of the baseball game play themselves out. Refocusing my attention to the show and getting somewhat better situated – I was treated to some superb interaction between Ms. Shaw and her band. Now not all her selections were of the Collins & SRV vein. She did treat us to some deep, murky, slow blues numbers, one of which was Blackest Day. Exhibiting some nice phrasing and tonal qualities showed that there is an accomplished guitar player here, who is capable of creating a mural of sounds to fit the song.
A question from Ms. Taylor to the audience, ‘Does anybody like Jimi Hendrix”? Ahh duh, but I am always leery of anyone covering the material of the late Mr. Hendrix. My five year old nephew can play the licks but that’s not the point, one must grasp the music that they are playing and not just the notes. So with a certain amount of trepidation I hear Ms. Shaw say “… Manic Depression” OK – not too many people cover this so let’s bring it on. Freaking unbelievable! As she hits the ascending notes from the opening riff, and the band kicks in on a wild merry go round ride thru one of the finest ‘original covers’ of this hallowed song I had ever heard. People are stunned, it’s quiet except for the wall of sound coming from the stage. Moving in and out of the familiar riffs that we know she then applied her own twists and turns, then making a slight return to the familiar before ending it with a smile. A quick note, at one point, I glanced over at the TV screen, and the Yankees have moved ahead of the Twins, and all is good. The perfect storm of Ms. Taylor, Mr. Hendrix and the Yankees made the night memorable for me (and from the cheers of the crowd) them too.
With people flocking to her side for CD’s and autographs, the lady with the smile that launched a thousand riffs had solidified her spot as an up and coming guitar slinger-songwriter. Her new apostles happy in knowing that they can say they saw her when…I headed back out into the colored rain to my car. Heading home to catch the last innings of the Yankee victory. It was a good night all around, and I am glad I made the trip. So will you be when you see Ms. Joanne Shaw Taylor.
Until Next Time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
PS: Well with the Yankees sweep of Minnesota it looks like the triumverate of Joanne Shaw Taylor, Jimi Hendrix and Dinosaur worked wonders
photos courtesy of: chefjimi