Music

20 Questions: Otis Taylor

Multi-instrumentalist and respected bluesman, re-imagines the banjo on his latest work, Recapturing the Banjo, released in February on Telarc Records. Collaborating with the likes of Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Keb’ Mo’ and Don Vappie, Recapturing the Banjo got an 8 from PopMatters back in March. Our very own Lou Friedman said: "Otis Taylor is the only "modern day" bluesman who can make the blues sound primitive without being phony or contrived. And it really doesn’t matter what weapon he’s using to fire his musical provocations. In this case, he’s chosen a banjo as the primary cannon from his arsenal. Something way better than Recapturing the Banjo is going to have to come along to knock this off the pedestal as the best blues release of 2008.


Otis Taylor

Recapturing the Banjo

Label: Telarc
US Release Date: 2008-02-05
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

When I was six years old I cried at Old Yeller and then I never cried at another movie again.

2. The fictional character most like you?

The black guy in Gladiator (I think his name was Juba), he was loyal and had a family, as well. He was always trying to get back home which I feel like I am doing every time I leave my family.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Take Five by Dave Brubeck.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Trek definitely, Spock is the man!

5. Your ideal brain food?

For me, waking up each day and really experiencing life, the colors, smells, sounds is what stimulates me. Each day is different.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

The thing that I am most proud of us being a father and a black man in a mixed marriage. It is tough to be in a mixed marriage and I feel like it is a huge accomplishment.

7. You want to be remembered for...?

Being somebody who was always on the edge and never comprimised anything, like putting art first and commercialism second. It sounds simple but it is really hard.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

I'd have to say Charlie Pride, he was a black man in the '60s and '70s and played country music, I had the chance to do that and didn't. The other person is Josephine Baker. She took France by storm and she adopted many children of different races. Both Pride and Baker were like musical diplomats.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Once when I was teaching blues in the schools and I had kids write down what made them upset and one kid says when my fish coughs, I wish I would have written that line.

10. Your hidden talents...?

Being a comedian. I was going to do this, but in the '60s they said you had to be in Vegas and I didn't want to be there.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Work like an immigrant and don't take anything for granted.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

My first Ode 5-string banjo, I bought it when I was 16 at the Denver Folklore Center, it cost me $120. I saved up the money by shoveling walks and cutting lawns.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or...?

Levis with good shoes and a great watch preferably Gucci shoes and a great '60s diving watch.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

My family for sure because they are stuck at home when I go to all these exotic places on tour.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

Someplace where a black man would be safe, not sure if that is the future so I guess I would have to say a place in the past where I could feel safe.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

I work more when I am stressed out, I don't necessarily retreat.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or...?

Popcorn and chocolate milk. I have loved both since childhood.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

I have traveled internationally and I would have to say, I wouldn't want to be any other place than where I live, Boulder, Colorado.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Help!

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

If I told you I'd have to kill you.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

"I'm proud of coming in second for my high school's alumnus of the year award to Mitt Romney. I would've liked to have beaten him, but he has lost enough for a lifetime."

So what the living heck is the gang up to now? Well, they won't tell us, but boy is it exciting.

You see, for Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott, each new phase of their career is marked by some sort of wonderful thing. Their first two albums together under the band name Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., gained a small but respectable cult following, but with 2015's self-titled re-envisioning, the guys streamlined their pop sensibilities into something that required a bigger studio budget, resulting in the biggest hit of their career with the song "Gone". They even placed in PopMatters Best Pop Album ranking for that year, which is no small feat.

Keep reading... Show less

Time has dulled the once vibrant approach of the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex.

When drummer Jimmy Chamberlin quit or was fired from the Smashing Pumpkins in 2009, he announced that he was going to focus his attention on the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex. This was good news. The Complex's 2005 debut Life Begins Again was freewheeling and colorful, filled to the brim with psychedelia, heavy pop, and heaping dose of post-rock. Billy Corgan was there, Rob Dickinson was there, even Bill Medley contributed to a track.

Keep reading... Show less
6
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image