The Center for the Arts is thrilled to welcome blues band Taj Mahal Quartet to the Marisa Funk Theater on August 6, 2022. Taj Mahal doesn’t wait for permission and convention means nothing, but traditions are holy. He has pushed music and culture forward, all while looking lovingly back on six decades of music making. No one is as simultaneously traditional and avant-garde.
At 76, Taj is a towering musical figure––a legend who transcended the blues not by leaving them behind, but by revealing their magnificent scope to the world. “The blues is bigger than most people think,” he says. “You could hear Mozart play the blues. It might be more like a lament. It might be more melancholy. But I’m going to tell you: the blues is in there.”
Taj’s exploration of music began as an exploration of self. He was born into a musical family in 1942 in Harlem to musical parents––Taj was raised conscious of his African roots and from the beginning, Taj found the blues magnetic, even as most artists around him in the Northeast were exploring other sounds.
In 1967, Taj’s self-titled debut announced the arrival of a bold young bluesman. The following year ushered in two milestones: sophomore album The Natch’l Blues dropped, and Taj performed in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, a film featuring performances from the Stones, The Who, Marianne Faithfull, and others meant for the BBC but pulled and kept from public eyes until 1996. In 1969, full of music and only just beginning, Taj released Giant Step / De Ole Folks at Home, a massive double album that hinted at Taj’s refusal to be boxed in. The 70s were a productive and ambitious recording period for Taj that included the Grammy-nominated soundtrack for the film Sounder. In the 80s, Taj moved to Hawaii, and fell in love with sounds native to the island as he toured constantly, while incorporating Latin, reggae, Caribbean, calypso, cajun, jazz, and more, all layered over a distinctly Afrocentric roots base he’d been raised to rediscover. For Taj, the 90s were incredibly prolific with back-to-back Grammy wins for the Best Contemporary Blues Album, honored for two dynamic projects with the Phantom Blues Band: Señor Blues and Shoutin’ in Key.
The list goes on into the 21st century and as Taj thinks about the dozens and dozens of albums, collaborations, live experiences, and captured sounds, he finds satisfaction in one main idea. “As long as I’m never sitting here, saying to myself, ‘You know? You had an idea 50 years ago, and you didn’t follow through,’ I’m really happy,” he says. “It doesn’t even matter that other people get to hear it. It matters that I get to hear it––that I did it.” A 2017 Grammy win for TajMo, his collaboration with Keb’ Mo’, brought his Grammy tally to three wins and 14 nominations, and underscored his undiminished relevance more than 50 years after his solo debut. Blues Hall of Fame membership, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association, and other honors also punctuate his résumé.
Don’t miss the legendary blues artist and performer Taj Mahal at The Center for the Arts on August 6, 2022.
WHAT: Taj Mahal Quartet
WHERE: The Center for the Arts’ Marisa Funk Theater | 314 West Main Street, Grass Valley, CA 95945
WHEN: Saturday, August 6, 2022 | Doors 7:00 p.m. Show 8:00 p.m.
TICKETS: $60-80 | thecenterforthearts.org
WEBSITE & INFO: https://thecenterforthearts.org/event/taj-mahal-quartet/ or (530) 274-8384