Review : Otis Taylor – Worthenbury – 18 Nov 2005

Posted on: Wednesday, Nov 30, 2005

As he promised Pete Evans sent in this excellent review; photos will follow.

Otis Taylor Band at “Goin’ Up The Country” Roots and Blues Club, Worthenbury, Wrexham – Friday November 18th with Tom Doughty in support.

This gig had attracted much interest and had sold out nearly a month previously thus ensuring the biggest ever night in the little village hall’s history.
It was Otis Taylor’s first tour of the UK although he came over to record for Blue Horizon in 1970 but left without completing a recording but since re-establishing his recording career in 1997 in the USA he has won 7 WC Handy nominations and numerous other awards.

However, opening up was the remarkable Tom Doughty who has quietly been building up an excellent reputation over the last few years. Following a traffic accident when a teenager which left him disabled, Tom plays with his guitar resting on his wheelchair like a lap steel. His prowess over the last few years has brought him to the attention of Woody Mann and Bob Brozman amongst others leading to bookings in the USA.
He opened with Banty Rooster and for the next hour kept everyone enthralled with his playing including Catfish Blues by Robert Petway, Brownsville Blues by Furey Lewis, a beautiful instrumental version of Eleanor Rigby and his own compositions Running Free and Koa River, the latter played on his Hawaiian guitar made from native Koa wood. All songs can be found on his excellent new cd Running Free.

A connection had been made with Otis Taylor by members of Hookers Blues Club (soon to be reinstated at Wrexham Rugby Club) at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2003 and the connection maintained since then, the common denominator being a love of rugby. For this trip, Otis was joined by Jack Hadley on lead guitar and John Paul Grigsby on bass guitar, two very fine musicians indeed, and whilst the main aim of the tour was to promote his new cd Below The Fold on the Telarc label, the evening’s set included songs from his previous four releases.

The opening track Feel Like Lightning was from the new cd and featured Otis on Banjo setting down a rhythm before Jack and John slipped into the groove of the song but as was the pattern of the evening the song then blended into a new number, the superb opening track Ten Million Slaves from the 2001 album Respect The Dead.

Respect The Dead was revisited then with Just Live Your Life featuring quiet, beautiful and sensitive Stratocaster from Jack. and was then followed by Hookers In The Street from the new cd which set down a pulsating rhythm enhanced by the request from Otis for audience clapping participation.

Although Otis does not generally play covers “When BB King plays my songs, then I’ll play his..” there then followed one of the best versions I’ve ever heard of “Hey Joe” again showcasing the superb guitar work of Jack – quite superb.

Otis had played Stratocaster on these tracks but then substituted it for the harmonica on the final track of the first set Hambone which resulted again in major audience participation of clapping and chanting as he went on walkabout throughout the hall.

The opening track of the second set was the haunting Rosa from the 2003 Telarc release Truth Is Not Fiction dedicated to the recently deceased Rosa Parks and featured Jack on lap steel guitar.
The next track featured Otis a capella on Hurry Home from the 2004 release Double V before the temperature was raised on Baby please Don’t Go, the Big Joe Williams cl;assic.
Next up was Please Come Home Before It Rains and featured Otis on electric mandolin. This superb track pulsates with African rhythms and also appears on Double V and again had the audience involved.
It was then according to Otis “time for me to get wild” with Didn’t Know Much About Education from Below The Fold and the two strats really cranked up as the song segwayed into Be My Frankenstein from Truth Is Not Fiction.

The evening then came to an end with a very long and exciting version of Black Witch from Respect The Dead which featured amazing playing and effects from Jack on the lap steel guitar with Otis laying down the rhythm which had a real North Mississippi / Fat Possum like feel to it. Again this song blended into another, Mandan Woman from Double V which again brought the audience to their feet .

Apparently Otis doesn’t normally perform an encore putting all his energy into the last number, but the requests were overwhelming and so announcing that the song had a lot in common with the Welsh, he concluded with Lost My Horse from the White African cd which refers to A Navajo Indian who drank too much!

All in all, this was one of the best gigs presented by the organisers in their nine years of promoting blues in north Wales, and the possibility of a return tour next year is looked forward to with anticipation.
Pete Evans

  • Comments Off on Review : Otis Taylor – Worthenbury – 18 Nov 2005

Comments are closed.