Thursday, September 18, 2014

Joe Fletcher 'You've Got The Wrong Man' Credits

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TAJ MAHAL ACCEPTS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FROM AMERICANA MUSIC ASSOCIATION

Taj Mahal accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association at tonight’s ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. Keb' Mo' presented the award. In his speech, Taj Mahal said, “This is one of the most powerful and wonderful things that could happen in life.” He then performed “Statesboro Blues” with an all-star band that included Ry Cooder (with whom he played in the Rising Sons), Don Was, and Buddy Miller.

He also reflected, "It's a real honor to receive a lifetime achievement award from the AMAs and to be in such esteemed company. I've been performing for over fifty years now and to be recognized for the road I've traveled means the world to me. I could not have done this without the audience that has been so supportive of me throughout my musical journey."

In the past five years, 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; and joined a Bonnaroo jam with Susan Tedeschi, Anthony Hamilton, Derek Trucks, Chaka Khan, and more. ‘The Complete Columbia Album Collection’ was released February, 2013 on Columbia/Legacy.

Composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Taj Mahal is one of the most prominent and influential figures in late 20th century blues and roots music. Though his career began more than four decades ago with American blues, he has broadened his artistic scope over the years to include music representing virtually every corner of the world – west Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the Hawaiian islands and so much more. What ties it all together is his insatiable interest in musical discovery. Over the years, his passion and curiosity have led him around the world, and the resulting global perspective is reflected in his music today. Taj Mahal is a two-time GRAMMY Award winner and Blues Hall of Famer.

The Americana Music Awards were broadcast by NPR Music and SIRIUS XM and will be broadcast in edited form by PBS.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Taj Mahal Bio


Composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Taj Mahal is one of the most prominent and influential figures in late 20th century blues and roots music. Though his career began more than four decades ago with American blues, he has broadened his artistic scope over the years to include music representing virtually every corner of the world – west Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the Hawaiian islands and so much more. What ties it all together is his insatiable interest in musical discovery. Over the years, his passion and curiosity have led him around the world, and the resulting global perspective is reflected in his music today.

Born Henry St. Claire Fredericks in Harlem on May 17, 1942, Taj grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father was a jazz pianist, composer and arranger of Caribbean descent, and his mother was a schoolteacher and gospel singer from South Carolina. Both parents encouraged their children to take pride in their diverse ethnic and cultural roots. His father had an extensive record collection and a shortwave radio that brought sounds from near and far into the home. His parents also started him on classical piano lessons, but after only two weeks, young Henry already had other plans about what and how he wanted to play.

In addition to piano, the young musician learned to play the clarinet, trombone and harmonica, and he loved to sing. He discovered his stepfather’s guitar and became serious about it in his teens when a guitarist from North Carolina moved in next door and taught him the various styles of Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed and other titans of Delta and Chicago blues.

Springfield in the 1950s was full of recent arrivals, not just from around the U.S. but from all over the globe. “We spoke several dialects in my house – Southern, Caribbean, African – and we heard dialects from eastern and western Europe,” Taj recalls. In addition, musicians from the Caribbean, Africa and all over the U.S. frequently visited the Fredericks home, and Taj became even more fascinated with roots – the origins of the various forms of music he was hearing, the path they took to reach their current form, and how they influenced each other along the way. He threw himself into the study of older forms of African-American music, which the record companies of the day largely ignored.

Henry studied agriculture at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the early 1960s. Inspired by a dream, he adopted the musical alias of Taj Mahal and formed the popular U. Mass party band, the Elektras. After graduating, he headed west in 1964 to Los Angeles, where he formed the Rising Sons, a six-piece outfit that included guitarist Ry Cooder. The band opened for numerous high-profile touring artists of the ‘60s, including Otis Redding, the Temptations and Martha and the Vandellas. Around this same time, Taj also mingled with various blues legends, including Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Sleepy John Estes.

This diversity of musical experience served as the bedrock for Taj’s first three recordings: Taj Mahal (1967), The Natch’l Blues (1968) and Giant Step (1969). Drawing on all the sounds and styles he’d absorbed as a child and a young adult, these early albums showed signs of the musical exploration that would be Taj’s hallmark over the years to come.

In the 1970s, Taj carved out a unique musical niche with a string of adventurous recordings, including Happy To be Just Like I Am (1971), Recycling the Blues and Other Related Stuff (1972), the GRAMMY®-nominated soundtrack to the movie Sounder (1973), Mo’ Roots (1974), Music Fuh Ya (Music Para Tu) (1977) and Evolution (The Most Recent (1978).

Taj’s recorded output slowed somewhat during the 1980s as he toured relentlessly and immersed himself in the music and culture of his new home in Hawaii. Still, that decade saw the well-received release of Taj in 1987, as well as the first three of his celebrated children’s albums on the Music For Little People label.

He returned to a full recording and touring schedule in the 1990s, including such projects as the musical scores for the Langston Hughes/Zora Neale Hurston play Mule Bone (1991) and the movie Zebrahead (1992). Later in the decade, Taj released a series of recordings with the Phantom Blues Band, including Dancing the Blues (1993), Phantom Blues (1996), and the two GRAMMY® winners, Señor Blues (1997) and the live Shoutin’ in Key (2000). Overall, he has been nominated for nine GRAMMY® Awards.

During this same period, Taj continued to expand his multicultural horizons by joining Indian classical musicians on Mumtaz Mahal in 1995, and recording Sacred Island, a blend of Hawaiian music and blues, with the Hula Blues Band in 1998. Kulanjan, released in 1999, was a collaborative project with Malian kora player Toumani Diabate (the kora is a 21-string west African harp). He recorded a second album with the Hula Blues Band, Hanapepe Dream, in 2003. Zanzibar, a European release, followed in 2005.

In 2008, Taj celebrated the 40th anniversary of his rich and varied recording career with the Heads Up International release of Maestro, a mix of original material, chestnuts borrowed from vintage sources and newcomers alike and including performances by Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Angelique Kidjo, Los Lobos, Ziggy Marley and others – many of whom have been directly influenced by Taj’s music and guidance.

Taj’s most recent release is a 15 cd deluxe box set titled Taj Mahal – The Complete Columbia Albums Collection (February 2013 via Columbia/Legacy). It includes every album from his self-titled debut of 1968 through 1976’s Satisfied ’N Tickled Too, plus landmark archival compilations Rising Sons Featuring Taj Mahal And Ry Cooder and 2012’s two-cd set of previously unreleased material,
The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal 1969-1973.

Taj continues to tour internationally, doing as many as 150 shows per year throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand and beyond.

Taj Mahal Photo

Credit: Jay Blakesburg

Thursday, September 11, 2014

MUSIC MAKER RELIEF FOUNDATION EARNS PRAISE FROM NEW YORKER, THE NATION, WALL STREET JOURNAL AS WELL AS KUDOS FROM B.B. KING, BONNIE RAITT, TAJ MAHAL, DEREK TRUCKS, & MORE

Of late, the Music Maker Relief Foundation’s twentieth anniversary has earned press in the New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, The Nation, Wondering Sound, and more. But musicians are also praising the non-profit organization and record label. Here’s what some of roots music’s leading lights have said:

“We are the Music Makers [the book] highlights an essential part of our culture, providing us a glimpse into the lives of the amazing, and often little known, musicians of the American South. Tim Duffy has taken every opportunity to sustain a dimension of Blues culture that could easily be lost forever, and nowhere is that more apparent than in his new book.” –BB King

Clapton said, "Music Maker is a fabulous project, real evidence that the music I have always loved is alive and well." –Eric Clapton

“I think they’re doing wonderful work and I support them for keeping not only interest in the blues alive but the musicians themselves... The photographs in this book are not only beautiful, but reflect the deep love and dedication The Duffys have for both preserving traditional Blues culture and providing real support and opportunity for these wonderful musicians who might otherwise be forgotten.” –Bonnie Raitt

“Some of the best blues comes from unlikely places. Thanks to Music Maker for seeking out the real blues artists.” –Derek Trucks

“Having worked extensively with The Music Maker Relief Foundation, I can say without a doubt, it is one of the most amazing organizations I have dealt with. Tim's and Denise's dedication to preserving the quality of life and the music of these essential and historic musicians is unsurpassed. Congratulations on 20 years!” –Kenny Wayne Shepherd

"Through the efforts of the Music Makers Relief Foundation, these amazing people and artists have been able to live dignified lives. In many cases they were rediscovered during their golden years by Tim and Denise Duffy, then given the joy of new recognition by their families, peers and fans world-over!" –Taj Mahal

“I have never seen photographs generate so much of the atmosphere and personalities of blues music.” –John Cohen, The New Lost City Ramblers

Next up is "We Are The Music Makers," a new book out next week on Nautilus Press; ‘We Are the Music Makers,’ a 2CD set out September 30; and the Homecoming October 3-4 in North Carolina, featuring over 40 musicians performing in concert.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

SUGAR RAY & THE BLUETONES #1 AT RADIO AS HUFFINGTON POST PREMIERES NEW SONG

NEW ENGLAND CONCERT DATES ADDED

Sugar Ray & the Bluetones' ‘Living Tear to Tear’ (Severn Records) debuted at #1 on Living Blues Magazine's radio chart this month. The band is celebrating its 35th anniversary since its first recording, a vinyl-only EP in 1979. Sugar Ray & The Bluetones have backed Otis Rush (who turned 80 this year), Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers, Big Walter Horton, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Mama Thornton, and Memphis Slim. Sugar Ray & The Bluetones are Sugar Ray Norcia (vocals, harmonica), Monster Mike Welch (guitar), Mudcat Ward (bass), Anthony Geraci (piano), and Neil Gouvin (drums).

Check out the Huffington Post premiere of the Louisiana swamp pop song “Our Story."

Sugar Ray & The Bluetones Tour Dates:

Saturday, Sept 20 - South Shore Conservatory - Hingham, MA
Saturday, Sept 27 - The Knickerbocker Café - Westerly, RI
Sunday, September 28 - The Narragansett Café - Jamestown, RI
Friday, October 24 - Johnny D’s - Somerville, MA
Saturday, November 1 - The Flying Monkey Performance Center - Plymouth, NH (with Tommy Castro)
Thursday, December 4 - Scullers Jazz Club - Boston, MA