Joanne Shaw TaylorTaylor embodies all the elements of modern blues, even if she sings with a distinctively British accent. Given her extraordinary dexterity as a guitarist and well-developed vocal chops, Taylor was already a sensation on the blues festival circuit in both the U.S. and Great Britain when only in her mid-twenties. Taylor caught the blues bug as a young teenager growing up in the Birmingham area. She heard guitarists Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins, and Jimi Hendrix and knew then that was the kind of music she wanted to pursue, eventually full-time.
Producer Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics fame) said of Taylor, several years previously when he first heard her: "I have played with all sorts of blues musicians all over the world. I even made a film, Deep Blues, where I went to Mississippi and recorded with some legendary players such as R.L. Burnside and Jesse Mae Hemphill. Last year I heard something I thought I would never hear: a British white girl playing blues guitar so deep and passionately it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end!" (Taylor was just 16 years old at that time.) Stewart was so impressed with her playing and musicianship that he asked her to accompany his supergroup, D.U.P., in touring Europe in 2002. She was also offered a record deal but the company went bankrupt.
Seven years later, in May 2009 and with Taylor 23 years old, she released her stunning debut album, White Sugar, for Ruf Records, a German label with U.S. offices and a strong U.S. presence. She followed it up with extended U.S. touring, including shows with pianist and singer/songwriter Candye Kane. For her debut, Taylor went to the producer she most admired, Jim Gaines, who also produced good albums by her favorite blues players, including Jonny Lang, Luther Allison, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Carlos Santana. Accompanying her on White Sugar were veteran Memphis recording session players Steve Potts on drums and Dave Smith on bass.
Good things are in the offing for this up-and-coming blues and blues-rock talent, and a glance at her website reveals a frantic touring schedule. She's clearly willing to work at her craft and put in the kind of air and ground miles needed to build a grassroots following in today's music business. ~ Richard Skelly
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