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Otis Taylor

Otis Taylor
Otis Taylor

Like a modern-day John Lee Hooker, Otis Taylor can make an entire song from a single riff. Hooker conjured powerful emotions with little more than a guitar and a somnolent mumble. Taylor, a multi-instrumentalist and blues singer, broke out in 2001 with his White African, a CD that did much justice to the Hooker blues tradition, but with modern tools. He built a new music from simple chords and dressed it in layers of studio reverb and gritty distortion that made his songs shimmer like broken bottles on pavement. But, unlike Hooker, Otis Taylor shied away from making party songs. On White African he relived some of the darkest days in American history. “Well, the white man pointed his finger and said what he always says/ They didn’t bother to hang me, they just shot me on the spot.” You go to Otis Taylor for bleak.

On the phone from his home in Boulder, I ask if he is in general a dark and moody guy. “Do I sound depressed?” he asks in a baritone that is just above a whisper. No, he does not, but I didn’t know what to expect. “Everybody says that,” he laughs. “What you have a talent for doesn’t necessarily mean that’s who you are. I’m just good at dark.”

White African has been called a masterwork; I wonder if it has been hard for him to live up to his own success.

“It’s like gambling. If I go out on a limb, will I make it this time? For me, so far, I’ve made it. And every time I make it, people go, ‘He can’t do that again.’ That’s part of the excitement for me of making a record, is to see if I can survive.” He laughs again, which coming from him is a sound both unsettling and relieving. “Maybe I should do Bob Dylan covers. That’d be different.”

Past Event

The Otis Taylor Band

  • Friday, January 15, 2010, 9:30 p.m.
  • Anthology, 1337 India Street, San Diego
  • $15 - $18
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Otis Taylor
Otis Taylor

Like a modern-day John Lee Hooker, Otis Taylor can make an entire song from a single riff. Hooker conjured powerful emotions with little more than a guitar and a somnolent mumble. Taylor, a multi-instrumentalist and blues singer, broke out in 2001 with his White African, a CD that did much justice to the Hooker blues tradition, but with modern tools. He built a new music from simple chords and dressed it in layers of studio reverb and gritty distortion that made his songs shimmer like broken bottles on pavement. But, unlike Hooker, Otis Taylor shied away from making party songs. On White African he relived some of the darkest days in American history. “Well, the white man pointed his finger and said what he always says/ They didn’t bother to hang me, they just shot me on the spot.” You go to Otis Taylor for bleak.

On the phone from his home in Boulder, I ask if he is in general a dark and moody guy. “Do I sound depressed?” he asks in a baritone that is just above a whisper. No, he does not, but I didn’t know what to expect. “Everybody says that,” he laughs. “What you have a talent for doesn’t necessarily mean that’s who you are. I’m just good at dark.”

White African has been called a masterwork; I wonder if it has been hard for him to live up to his own success.

“It’s like gambling. If I go out on a limb, will I make it this time? For me, so far, I’ve made it. And every time I make it, people go, ‘He can’t do that again.’ That’s part of the excitement for me of making a record, is to see if I can survive.” He laughs again, which coming from him is a sound both unsettling and relieving. “Maybe I should do Bob Dylan covers. That’d be different.”

Past Event

The Otis Taylor Band

  • Friday, January 15, 2010, 9:30 p.m.
  • Anthology, 1337 India Street, San Diego
  • $15 - $18
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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