ERIC TAYLOR AND FRIENDS, LIVE AT THE RED SHACK
With special guests Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, Denice Franke, Susan Lindfors Taylor, James Gilmer, Marco Python Fecchio.
Info: Email Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT LIVE AT THE RED SHACK
Last May we recorded 2 nights live at The Red Shack studio in Houston, Texas. Nanci Griffith flew in from Nashville to sing, Lyle Lovett came in to sing, Denice Franke and I came in to sing, Marco Python Fecchio flew in from Milan, Italy to play electric guitar, and James Gilmer came in to play percussion. There was a film crew and live studio audience. We captured 2 magical nights of music and friendship and history. The performances are stunning, and this CD is unlike anything out there. It's a combination live record / retrospective record / celebration of friends. Produced by Susan Lindfors Taylor
ABOUT ERIC TAYLOR
People have been talking about Eric Taylor and his songs since the early 1970s, when he was an integral part of a Houston songwriting scene that included Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, and Guy Clark. Taylor is one of the most influential songwriters to ever come out of Texas. Over the years, as his reputation and song catalogue have grown, he has had a profound effect on the evolution and development of such well-known Texas artists as Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, and others. "Eric Taylor was one of my heroes and teachers when I started playing around Houston in the early 1970s," says Earle. "He's the real deal."
Taylor released his first album, the masterful Shameless Love, in 1981 and shortly thereafter decided to take an extended sabbatical from the music business. Over the years his songs would appear on albums by the likes of Griffith, Lovett, and June Tabor (from Steeleye Span).
It wasn't until 1995's Eric Taylor release that he reentered the music business full-time. Hailed by fans and critics alike as one of the finest albums of that year (it was voted Texas Album Of The Year at the Kerrville Music Awards), Eric Taylor pushed Taylor back into the mainstream folk and singer-songwriter limelight. He began to tour on a steady basis and in 1998 put out his third album, Resurrect, recently named one of the “100 essential records of all time” by Texas magazine Buddy.
2001 brought forth Scuffletown, and following its release, he was a featured artist on Austin City Limits and NPR’s Morning Edition. The Kerrville Tapes (2003) is Eric’s first live album, recorded during three years of appearances at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival. In 2004, heeding repeated requests by fans and media, Eric re-mastered the vinyl Shameless Love and reissued it as a CD with 2 never-released-before bonus tracks.
In the spring of 2005, Taylor returned to Rock Romano's Red Shack in Houston to record his 5th studio album, The Great Divide. Garnering rave reviews at home and abroad, The Great Divide quickly reached #3 on the Euro Americana Chart and in 2006 was named one of the Top Releases Most Played by Folk Radio.
Hollywood Pocketknife is a 10-song collection (7 new songs, 3 surprising covers) that shows Taylor in his prime as a writer and performer, with his exquisite narrative style, his keen, studied observation of the human spirit, and his intricate, roots-driven guitar work. Produced by Taylor, Hollywood Pocketknife also features a stellar cast of musicians, including Eric Demmer (saxophone), David Webb (keyboard, Hammond organ), Mathias Schneider (lap steel), James Gilmer (percussion), Vince Bell (vocals), Steven Fromholz (vocals), and Susan Lindfors (vocals).
In early 2011 Taylor decided to bring together some of his oldest friends and favorite musicians for a live recording. So in May we recorded 2 nights live at The Red Shack studio in Houston, Texas. There was a film crew and live studio audience. Nanci Griffith flew in from Nashville to sing, Lyle Lovett came in to sing, Denice Franke and Susan Lindfors Taylor came in to sing, Marco Python Fecchio flew in from Milan, Italy to play electric guitar, and James Gilmer came in to play percussion. No headphones, no backline. We captured 2 magical nights of music and friendship and Houston history. The performances are stunning, and this CD is unlike anything out there. It's a combination live record / retrospective record / celebration of friends.
A mesmerizing performer, Taylor has been a featured artist at many festivals, including Kerrville, Newport Folk Festival, Woody Guthrie Folk Festival and the Take Root Festival in Holland. His U.S. tours have taken him to the Northeast (Club Passim, The Bottom Line, Caffe Lena), Northwest (Civic Auditorium, Walters Cultural Arts Center), Southeast (Sundilla, Eddie’s Attic), Southwest (The Outpost), California (Freight & Salvage, Don Quixote's, Coffee Gallery Backstage) and Midwest (The Ark, CSPS).
Taylor also tours extensively in Europe, playing notable venues such as the Paradiso (Amsterdam), Theatre Kikker (Utrecht), The Real Music Club (Belfast), Hotel du Nord (Paris), Norwich Arts Centre (Norwich), The Bein Inn (Perth), Theatr Mwldan (Cardigan) and The Mercat (Edinburgh). During his past four European tours, Taylor has played sold-out shows throughout The Netherlands, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and the UK.
In addition to his appearances on Austin City Limits and NPR’s Morning Edition, Taylor has performed on Late Night With David Letterman (with Nanci Griffith), NPR's Mountain Stage, and BBC Radio Scotland.
He has taught at the Kerrville Folk Festival Songwriting School, and has conducted songwriting workshops at the Fulston Manor Performing Arts Centre (Sittingbourne, UK), CARAD (Rhayader, Wales), and the Plowshares Coffeehouse (Pennsylvania).
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT ERIC TAYLOR
Eric Taylor has been one of the finest southern songwriters for more than three decades, and Hollywood Pocketknife, marked by plainspoken but authoritative singing, ranks among his finest work. One thing that I've always loved about Eric's music is the way his songs are often from a character's perspective, completely, or at least seemingly, outside of himself . . . . capturing the unique lives, or moments in the lives, of the kinds of people we might not ordinarily notice but for a skilled writer like Eric who finds something to zero in on.
STEVE GIVENS, HIGH VALLEY HOUSE CONCERTS
An Eric Taylor concert is more than a sampling of his substantial repertoire with a few pithy intros and stories thrown in for good measure. It's a seamless performance and a piece of music theater in which you sometimes don't realize where the stories end and the songs begin. It's a masterful, highly evocative and riveting piece of art.
Eric Taylor's narrative gifts are extraordinary. The proems to his songs - creative monologues in their own right - do more than elucidate his songs; they contribute to their mystery. The result is a provocative and captivating evening of theater - myth, music and wisdom - that both enchants and unnerves. Eric is the living inheritor of the Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Townes Van Zandt tradition in Texas music, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for resuscitating voices overheard in the Lucky Man Trailer Park, the Helen of Troy Beauty Salon and other places where the downtrodden and doomed work and dwell, wherever fists are clenched in anger or in pain. Not all of life's weary travelers are in the carnival or on the open road, but Eric Taylor is on watch where dreams remain unrealized, and he is working to turn common life into uncommon art.
CHARLIE HUNTER, FLYING UNDER RADAR PRODUCTIONS
Eric Taylor is one of the few artists I’ve ever seen with a greatness that wreathes about him as he takes the stage, no matter what size the venue. An audience instinctively knows to shut up and pay attention. This is a man who takes the art of songwriting – and the art of performance – seriously. And, at the end of the set, the audience will have been transported some place and back again. Eric Taylor doesn’t just make you feel the sun and taste the dust of Texas, he takes you places and puts you inside people’s minds. From prison inmates trying to fathom the jumble of their lives to little kids watching their family implode, Eric Taylor makes it real. Aspiring – and accomplished – songwriters leave Eric Taylor shows shaking their heads in awe. And well they should.
. . . Thinking about some of the music by musicians I love — Buddy Holly, Arlo Guthrie, James Taylor, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Eric Taylor, Karla Bonoff, Sting, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Nat King Cole, and Frank Zappa. You know, the good stuff. The stuff that could, and still does, enthrall me.
JIM CALIGIURI, AUSTIN CHRONICLE
Serious fans of singer-songwriters will agree that a new album of songs from Eric Taylor is surely something to celebrate. [On The Great Divide] Taylor, sounding remarkably renewed, demonstrates rare intensity matched with a combination of wordplay and melody that again confirms his stature as one of Texas’s master songsmiths.
MIKE LANCE, GREY'S PUB (BRIGHTON, UK)
One of the best acts I’ve ever put on at The Greys – in 20 years of promoting there. The whole place looks forward to his next trip over.
I think Eric Taylor is one of the best writers working today. He has his own voice and his own vision. His arrangements on Resurrect are beautifully sparse, only what’s needed is there. His lyrics are equally spare and right to the point. He is Texas, but he doesn’t drag the whole state behind him or wave it like a banner. My girlfriend made the mistake of lending me Resurrect and now she knows she’ll never get it back.
LAURIE OUDIN, MAIN STREET CAFE (HOMESTEAD, FL)
I want to thank you for sending Eric our way. He is truly one of the greatest songwriters/poets/storytellers I have ever heard. It was a mesmerizing show from start to finish.
Eric Taylor’s work always garners praise from me. Resurrect is eleven stars for eleven songs of marvelous integrity in timeless storytelling. If you miss an opportunity to hear Eric Taylor in concert, you have missed a chance to hear a voice I consider the William Faulkner of songwriting in our current time, and you will miss the rare opportunity to watch the hands of one of America’s most unusual guitarists, with lyrics that will nail your heart to your ear and mind. For me to say that Eric Taylor is one of the finest writers of our time is an understatement.
He’s the real deal. Eric Taylor was one my heroes and teachers when I started playing around Houston in the early 1970s.
Eric Taylor....a very gifted songwriter. It was a high point for me performing “Strong Enough For Two” with him at the Newport Folk Festival. Hope to work more with him.
I’m always the opening act when I’m around Eric. I love his voice, and he has a great narrative quality and sense of detail. He sort of takes you out of your own reality and into the reality of his songs. It’s good writing no matter how you cut it.
WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH, HOUSTON PRESS
Like Taylor at his best in concert, The Great Divide is sparse, concise and direct. No wonder it hits the bull's-eye. This is what being a Texas singer-songwriter is all about.
ROB ADAMS, THE HERALD (EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND)
Eric Taylor got a five-star review in this paper recently, only because the arts editor doesn't let us go up to 10.
STEVE COCCIA, THE MANSION SERIES/FRIENDS OF MUSIC (MIDDLETOWN, NY)
Eric did a great show. Eric's fans will drive from great distance and in nasty weather to see him.
PERFORMING SONGWRITER MAGAZINE
Eric Taylor has resurfaced as one of Texas’ most revered songsmiths. His songs play in your head like poignant soundtracks with vivid real-life images.
BRUM BEAT MAGAZINE
Here is a master impressionist. Taylor’s novelistic style of writing allows him to stand shoulder to shoulder with those Texas-born literary giants, Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy.
MARIO TARRADELL, DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Taylor’s latest [album], The Great Divide, ranks as one of his most affecting. Powerful stuff.
ACOUSTIC GUITAR MAGAZINE
If there’s anything better than Nanci Griffith or Lyle Lovett singing an Eric Taylor tune, it’s Taylor singing it himself...he’s one of those songwriters that has the ability to plop you down in the middle of a story or a situation and make you care that you’re there.
MIKE PAGET, U.U. COFFEEHOUSE (COLUMBIA, SC)
We get to watch a fair number of talents in this labor of love, and occasionally those talents show their genius. Eric was a genius Saturday night.
VIN SCELSA - WFUV, NEW YORK CITY
Listening to his record reminds me of how I felt when I first encountered fellow Texan Guy Clark’s classic, Old No. 1,....that I am in the presence of a uniquely American voice.
NO DEPRESSION MAGAZINE
His lines and melodies have the concision of the blues, his stories never indulge in ephemeral confessions, they feel necessary, composed somehow from fragments of every man and woman’s story.....distinct as cinema verite.
THE NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN
Taylor released the astounding Shameless Love album in 1981 and then left the music business. In 1995, Taylor resurfaced with an excellent self-titled album...Lovett sang harmonies. Three years later, he released a masterpiece called Resurrect. One of the finest records of the decade. Taylor has spent the beginning of September 2000 completing a new album called Scuffletown, a batch of songs that stand with anything he’s done, which means anything most anyone has done.
GLORIA HOLLOWAY, U.U. DOME (TAMPA, FL)
I'm listening to Eric Taylor's latest CD The Great Divide, and oh boy, his songs really do illuminate the human condition and in a very compelling way...a way which is not interchangeable with many, if any, others.
THE OXFORD AMERICAN
In the past four years Eric Taylor has released two collections of songs that stand up to and apart from the finest work of (Townes) Van Zandt and (Guy) Clark. Resurrect is the latest such masterpiece...Even taken alone, without the stark but beautiful settings, Taylor’s images, language, and characters are staggering.
THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE
A man cleans himself up and comes back to the light of day in due time, and Taylor’s career is truly in a resurrect mode. With Resurrect he now has an album that captures his longstanding style with a round of poetic new songs...we hear beauty, we see love, redemption and the light of day.
ARTHUR WOOD, FOUNDING EDITOR OF FOLKWAX
Simply said, Eric Taylor is an American treasure.
FAST FACTS ABOUT ERIC TAYLOR
Eric Taylor’s albums include Live At The Red Shack (2011), Hollywood Pocketknife (2007), The Great Divide (2005), The Kerrville Tapes (2003), Scuffletown (2001), Resurrect (1998), Eric Taylor (1995), and Shameless Love (vinyl 1981, CD reissue with 2 bonus tracks 2004).
The Kerrville Tapes is Taylor’s first live album, recorded during three performances at The Kerrville Folk Festival. It includes the often-requested songs “Hemingway’s Shotgun,” “Prison Movie,” and “Strong Enough for Two.”
Scuffletown is the first of Taylor’s albums to feature songs by another writer. He chose to include two songs, “Nothin’” and “Where I Lead Me” by his longtime friend and mentor, Townes Van Zandt.
Taylor’s songs have been recorded and performed by artists such as Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Joan Baez, and June Tabor.
In 1977 Taylor was a winner of the “New Folk” competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival. In 1996 his album, Eric Taylor, was voted Album Of The Year at the Kerrville Folk Festival Music Awards.
Taylor learned intricate blues guitar stylings from music legends Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, and Mississippi Fred McDowell while working at the Family Hand club in Houston, Texas, in the early 1970s. Later he developed his own unique guitar picking style that would be imitated by many of the young songwriters he nurtured, including Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith.
Resurrect was recently named one of the “100 essential records of all time” by the Texas magazine Buddy.
In 2005 The Great Divide reached #3 on the Euro Americana Chart and in 2006 was named one of the Top 100 Releases Most Played by Folk Radio.
Taylor has been a featured performer on Austin City Limits, at the prestigious Newport Folk Festival, on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and Mountain Stage, BBC Radio Scotland, and has appeared on both Late Night With David Letterman with Nanci Griffith and Austin City Limits with Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark, and Robert Earl Keen.
Taylor grew up in Atlanta, GA, spent a short amount of time in Washington, DC, and migrated to Houston, TX, in the early 70s. He now lives in Weimar, TX, about halfway between Houston and Austin.
Taylor produced Hollywood Pocketknife, The Great Divide, Scuffletown and Resurrect. The albums were recorded in Houston. Musicians include Eric Demmer, David Webb, James Gilmer, Gene Elders, Vince Bell, Steven Fromholz, Susan Lindfors and Denice Franke.
Eric Taylor And Friends, Live At The Red Shack (2011 Blue Ruby Records)
Hollywood Pocketknife (2007 Blue Ruby Records)
The Great Divide (2005 Blue Ruby Records)
Shameless Love (reissue CD, 2004 Blue Ruby Records)
Scuffletown (2001 Eminent)
Resurrect (1998 KOCH)
Eric Taylor (1995 Watermelon)
Shameless Love (vinyl, 1981 Featherbed)
CD Review: Eric Taylor - Live at Red Shack; Plays Eddie's Attic, January 28
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Eric Taylor Live at the Red Shack Blue Ruby Music By Al Kaufman Eric Taylor is like that coo...Eric Taylor
Live at the Red Shack
Blue Ruby Music
By Al Kaufman
Eric Taylor is like that cool uncle you had. You know, the one who lived out in the woods in a cabin he built by himself. He talked a little saltier than your mom approved of, he didn’t care if you flipped through the nudie magazines he didn’t bother to try to hide, he’d tell you stories about improper things your mom did as a child, and, most importantly, he taught you a few chords on the guitar.
Although Taylor didn’t put out his first album until 1981, he’s been writing songs since long before. In 1970, he left Atlanta to try to make it in California. He got as far as Houston, where he ran into some songwriters with names like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. He worshipped them and they, in turn, thought he was a dumb kid. But Taylor kept working at it and became a gifted songwriter and storyteller in the same vein as his mentors. Ex-wife Nanci Griffith covered his “Dollar Matinee” on her debut . Lyle Lovett, a student of Taylor’s, covered his “Memphis Midnight, Memphis Morning” on his covers CD, Step Inside this House. Both Lovett and Griffith show up on Live at Red Shack to sing their respective songs (and some others) with Taylor on this, his live retrospective. Their harmonies are full of love, warmth and gratitude.
What Taylor has done on Red Shack is assemble friends (Lovett, Griffith, Denice Franke, Italian guitar virtuoso Marco Python Fecchio, and current wife Susan Lindfors Taylor) together with a handpicked audience of 20 or so guests (for whom he also bought drinks) to play some of his favorite songs that he wrote.
And while these songs are about dollar matinees and the death of JFK (beautifully told through the eyes of “Visitors from Indiana”), this doesn’t feel like some ancient guy rehashing the good old days, but rather a gifted storyteller spinning mesmerizing yarns. Taylor’s rambling intro into “Dean Moriarty” talks of the year 1957 (“It was a good year for cars. A bad year for haircuts, but a good year for cars.”) and includes school segregation, Jack Kerouac, and trying to get girls to take a ride in his car.
Taylor may sing of the past, of bar rooms and hay fields and even Johnny Cash, but his characters want the same things we do. They want love and redemption. They want some fun and happiness. They want respect and sometimes even a little vengeance. Taylor’s people are just like us, it’s just that their tales are exquisitely told.
Eric Taylor plays Eddie’s Attic Saturday, January 28 with Freddie Vanderford.
Eric Taylor put his heart into new project
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By Andrew Dansby, Staff Writer Published 10:41 a.m., Friday, January 6, 2012 Eric Taylor though...By Andrew Dansby, Staff Writer
Published 10:41 a.m., Friday, January 6, 2012
Eric Taylor thought a lot about time long before triple bypass heart surgery allowed him to keep writing and singing about it. His songs aren't necessarily about sands trickling from top to bottom of an hourglass, but they still reflect its forward push and sometimes an attempt to preserve something precious and passed.
He ambles through his home, just outside of Weimar, wearing a faded black shirt bearing Warren Zevon's famous quote about knowing his ride was here: "Enjoy every sandwich." He points proudly to his 1939 Remington typewriter, restored, functional and beautiful. He holds up a replica of a 1949 Mercury, the same car that Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady put on the road, inspiring Kerouac's famous novel which in turn inspired Taylor's song Dean Moriarty, released 15 years ago.
Last year, Taylor revisited the song adding to it a long story that spoke to its beginnings, a story of cars and youth and freedom. Taylor revisited many of his other songs during a two-day session, recording them in a live-in-the-studio setting at Rock Romano's Red Shack Studio in Houston.
Taylor no longer calls Houston home, but the album feels of Houston, built on songs and stories he wrote when he lived here. Several of his old friends, peers and fans show up to sing: Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, Denice Franke. Taylor provided the songs, the spirit, the stories and the sauce. "A few people probably had too good a time," he says. "And we had to say, 'No, it's time to go home, now."
Taylor emerged from the sweltering studio with something that preserves a piece of Houston music history that sprung up in Montrose in the 1970s. Live at the Red Shack runs about an hour, with an emphasis on the music. But cameras were also rolling and there are more than six hours of performances and exchanges and conversations captured, too.
"It's about as live as you can get as far as I'm concerned, but it's not a concert album," Taylor says, sipping a glass of wine and looking out the window at the secluded green expanse around his home. Hogs, deer and cattle can all be counted on to pass by at some point, unlike his time in Montrose about which Taylor says, "I didn't see any deer there unless they were drug induced."
The goal was to recall those sometimes-hazy days in and around Anderson Fair, give them context and update them. "We wanted to be able to catch conversations," says Taylor, who admits that one attendee didn't realize how close he was to a microphone when he criticized another singer for not knowing the words to a song. Media wasn't invited, Taylor says, "because I felt like it would change things too much."
"I don't think any of us went in with the idea of trying to recapture anything, I think that would be a really big mistake," he says. "I was trying to make something new. It wasn't exactly a reunion. I see these people all the time. But it was like, 'catch what we got now.' " He says his own health scare played some part in coming up with the idea, which he executed with his wife, Susan Lindfors Taylor, a singer-songwriter who produced the album. The only newcomer invited to the session was Dr. Bud Frazier, the heart surgeon who gave Taylor a second wind that Zevon never had.
A lucky landing
Taylor is 62 now, a little gruff but a venerable figure from a boom time for live music in Houston. His arrival was dumb luck. A Georgia native, he sold a guitar hoping the money would get him to California. Asked if he had any plans once he arrived on the west coast he replies, flatly, "No." He ended up in Houston and thought he'd spend the night in Hermann Park, only to get run off. He eventually found work at the Family Hand washing dishes and bought a cheap guitar, but says, "I had no idea what I was walking into."
His first week in Houston he took in shows by Lightnin' Hopkins and Townes Van Zandt. Eventually he'd play bass for Hopkins and open shows for Van Zandt. "I was such a rube," he says, laughing. He recalls the time he approached Guy Clark and congratulated him. Clark had been playing Fire and Rain at his shows, and Taylor had heard another version of the song on the radio. "I said, 'There's this cat doing a copy of your song and it's playing all over the place, it's a good version too,'" Taylor says. "And he said, 'What the (expletive) are you talking about?' He glared at me, said, 'You dumb (expletive)' and walked away.
"A guy told me it was a James Taylor song, and I said, 'Who's James Taylor?' "
With Clark, Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker as mentors, Taylor and a group of like-minded songwriters set about making their art, with periods of study and growing pains. He says he and singer-songwriter Vince Bell would get together and listen to music every morning and share some of their songs. "It'd be me saying, 'Does this sound too much like Townes?' And him saying, 'Of course.' ... 'Does this sound too much like Zevon?' "
Houston's booming music scene
But he likens the scene to Greenwich Village in New York in the '60s. "You could go see people like Big Mama Thornton or Lightnin' any night of the week. You could go to Irene's and listen to Johnny Winter until six in the morning." He and Griffith, whom he married in 1976 (they divorced six years later) would play their own sets and then go out and hear live music until sunrise. She covered his Dollar Matinee on her 1978 album, There's a Light Beyond These Woods, and added harmonies to his 1981 debut album, Shameless Love.
Fourteen years passed before Taylor released another album, a period during which he struggled with some of the excesses common to his chosen line of work. He named that album Eric Taylor, fitting as it was a new start. And his skills as an observer and storyteller had grown in that time. He became a master of efficiency, using compact phrases and loaded words to put across fully realized stories on Dean Moriarty, Whooping Crane, Hemingway's Shotgun and Deadwood.
Taking lessons from Taylor
Three years later one of Taylor's students, Lovett, included Taylor's Memphis Midnight/Memphis Morning on an album of songs written by his friends and heroes. Lovett remembers seeing Taylor play Anderson Fair as far back as 1977. "Eric was a real teacher for me," Lovett says. "He and a few other people like Vince Bell were the keepers of that flame in terms of Townes' and Guy's songwriting ethic. I learned so much from the way he structured a song, what to put in, what to leave out. I'd try to learn his songs within days of hearing them."
Two years ago, Lovett recorded Taylor's Whooping Crane and his upcoming album includes Taylor's Understand You.
On Red Shack Lovett sings Memphis Midnight/Memphis Morning as a duet with Taylor and adds backing vocals to Tractor Song and Visitors From Indiana.
The two work well together, though they're a study in contrasts. Taylor ragged and rough, Lovett more the perfectionist. With Red Shack Taylor suggests he sees songs as malleable. He mentions Whooping Crane, a song he wrote years ago only to change a line as he got older. "I felt silly being 62 years old and saying, 'They thought I was uptight, but I wasn't,' " he says. "Uptight, it's just a word that has moved on for me." When Lovett recorded the song he used the original line. "It fits him, that's him. Lyle is just so precise about how he does things. And he did it in a way that's fine with me."
Only one rule
But Taylor's voice has also changed due to intubation during his heart surgery. "Lyle would say, 'That's not how we did it on the last record,' " he says. "And I'd tell him that record was made in 1995; I sing a little different now. He said, 'Yes. I noticed that.' "
Taylor says he still abides by something Clark told him. "Guy Charles put it best: 'The only rule we had was there ain't no rules,' " he says. "In Houston, the writers didn't draw any lines in the sand."
The inspiration can come from travel, but just as easily it can come from one of the many books in his office with its antique typewriter, view of a green expanse or Zevon ephemera. "This is where you kind of come and sit and look at things and think," he says. "And go after it."
Nearly five years have passed since going after it resulted in a new set of songs. Taylor plans to play some shows for Red Shack - he'll be at 14 Pews on Saturday. And then he'll look ahead.
"I always wanted to wait till I had a big bag of songs and chose the ones I wanted on the record," he says. "But I don't think I'm going to do that this time. I haven't had a chance to think and rethink these songs so I think it'll be a little different. I want a little blood on the bone on this record."
Album Review: Eric Taylor – Live At The Red Shack (Blue Ruby)
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Live At The Red Shack Review (UK) Northern Sky – 3 November 2011 by Allan Wilkinson http://www.al...Live At The Red Shack Review (UK)
Northern Sky – 3 November 2011
by Allan Wilkinson
I've shamelessly waxed lyrical about Eric Taylor for many years now, based upon the times I've met him, the times I've attended his shows and the times I've popped onto the player any one of the half a dozen studio albums the Texan singer-songwriter has produced over his thirty-year recording career thus far. Not the most prolific recording artist in the history of music by any means but that hardly seems to matter, not when you consider the gems this Houston-based songwriter has written over the years. The mention of Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark, Steve Earle and the late Townes Van Zandt would be incomplete without mentioning Eric Taylor in the same breath. An extraordinary storyteller, Taylor takes us on a journey with each of his live performances, comprising engaging stories interspersed with outstanding songs such as Deadwood for instance, the story of the cruel death of Crazy Horse as relayed from a daily newspaper in a sleepy Dakota bar, where the old ones told lies about whiskey on a woman's breath.
For this live album Taylor has assembled a few old friends to help out during an intimate performance, recorded over two nights at the Red Shack, a recording studio in Houston, its walls stained with the 'tit, sweat and balls of all the guitar ghosts that have been coming and going for so many years.' The recording, which runs for a generous 73 minutes, includes songs, stories and monologues, each effectively shaping the American landscape before our very ears, a landscape inhabited by characters real or imagined from Jack Kerouac's Dean Moriarty and the Oglala Lakota chief Crazy Horse to the colourful carnival folks Jim and Jean, the fickle friends, the dearly beloved and the dearly departed; each story told in Taylor's inimitable gravel voice, accompanied by his assured yet delicately picked guitar.
The song introductions are almost as important as the songs themselves. Taylor leads us into his world with a natural yet mesmerising, almost poetic flow of speech that is equally tender and sympathetic yet forceful and determined at the same time; you tend to believe every word. The introduction to Dean Moriarty is probably the album's defining moment.
With contributions from both the former Mrs Eric Taylor Nanci Griffith, as well as the current Mrs Susan Lindfors Taylor, together with Lyle Lovett and Denice Franke, each lending their distinctive voices, Marco Python Fecchio provides some tasteful electric guitar whilst James Gilmer takes to the drum seat. The Susan Lindfors Taylor produced album provides an astonishingly accurate record of an Eric Taylor performance, which will leave you both spellbound and captivated, providing you allow your imagination to take you there. Go on, treat yourself to an hour or so in the company of Eric Taylor and friends; you will feel like you'd been there.
The Maze - Nottingham, UK - October 2006
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Eric Taylor came on stage at the Maze in Nottingham without any ceremony. There’s no other way. Ther...Eric Taylor came on stage at the Maze in Nottingham without any ceremony. There’s no other way. There is no curtain, no announcement, just your allotted time. He took his guitar from a solid looking, green coloured travel case at the rear. He comes from the Houston area of Texas and people like Joan Baez, Lyle Lovett and his ex-wife Nanci Griffith have nothing but good things to say about his playing and his song writing. The people at the front were seated with their feet resting on the edge of the stage. Not a word was said, the room was silent, respectful; everyone in the audience was on their best behaviour.
He started a little blues riff on his blond acoustic guitar (a beautiful sounding, handmade ‘Ross-Kinscherff’). It was plugged in, like all guitars these days, but his still sounded like an acoustic guitar; warm sounding, clear ringing tones. It might have been a ‘dirty’ blues riff but the notes shone like warm honey. He’s tall, with big hands, picks on the thumb and first two fingers of his right hand. He stood a little away from the microphone and he hunched his shoulders, his head a little to one side, listening, making sure the sound was right; his arms wrapped around his guitar making it look small. There was a wooden bar stool at his side with an open folder of his songs on it. He has a deep voice, sometimes a growl, always endowing his tales of American small town lives with authenticity. He sipped from a glass of whiskey throughout, fighting off a sniffle and a cold. He has white rather than grey hair, straggly, wispy, a little awry and he was wearing a white, long sleeved sweat-shirt with three buttons, a bit like an under shirt. He looked like an ageing knight of the Round Table on his day off, without his horse or armour.
He found the heat from the stage lights oppressive, leaching the life and accuracy from his guitar, so the lights were turned down. He seemed to fade a little into the background, become a little indistinct, a little mysterious; somehow appropriate. He’s read all those Southern writers, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers and he writes short stories in song; stories of people on the edges, people looking for salvation, but who, maybe, don’t want it yet. His characters seem displaced, a little lost, always too far away from the surroundings they know. He’s an observer and in the sparest of words he looks to reveal something emotional about his characters’ lives. “I don’t want to reveal everything. I like people to wonder for themselves.” Surprisingly, his conversation with the audience between songs was full of humour; wry, sardonic, dry, oblique, sometimes surreal, always funny, at odds with the songs themselves. “The humour in the talk is so I can get away with the sort of songs that follow.” Someone once told him he wrote, “.. great songs but they don’t have any hope.” That seemed a little hard even to me. The characters in his stories win small victories; it’s just in a place where failure holds all the best cards.
His songs may be about bleak subjects, but his guitar playing is anything but. It was wonderful. He finds a groove, a blues influenced, blues inspired riff, and adds other touches, James Taylor finger style additions, string bends, aching guitar sounds to convey emotional colours, always at least two guitars worth of sound from one instrument and one set of fingers. It’s stylish, unique picking, using what he calls ‘substitute’ chords, although they sounded good enough to make the first team to me. He has an enviable guitar technique. “I was lucky, I learned to play from watching Lightnin’ Hopkins. There was this little 400-seat theatre in Houston. I saw Springsteen, Freddie King, Gram Parsons. I got to know Mississippi Fred McDowell.” The names alone describe a musical education in country storytelling, with a blues chaser. “I don’t see too many young players playing the way I do.” I’m not surprised.
He played for his audience but never to the crowd. He didn’t look for clichéd climaxes or manufactured endings; he isn’t that sort of crowd pleaser. He looks for an appreciative rather than an enthusiastic audience; a wrapt rather than an excited one. He doesn’t do the Wabash Cannonball. “No, I don’t,” he said laughing, “plenty of other guys do that.” The audience was quiet, reverential. Some of them pursed their lips and muttered when the barman, doing his job, racked a few glasses and intruded into the intimacy. It was always an intimate gig, a reflective affair, an evening for devotees; you needed to listen and everyone did.
I went with a couple of players, guys who know the mysteries of dadgad, who understand a little about the merits of a B string dropped down to A and the quiet craft of a good song well written. They stood either side of me and looked mean if they thought I was going to be critical in anyway. They kept pointing out things, making sure I understood; they wanted the man looked after. Eric Taylor seems to inspire that sort of devotion, that sort of affection, that sort of regard; like he is an endangered species – maybe he is.
State Bar - Glasgow, UK
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written by Rob Adams MUSIC ERIC TAYLOR, STATE BAR, GLASGOW ***** Not for the first time w...written by Rob Adams
STATE BAR, GLASGOW
Not for the first time when leaving an Eric Taylor gig, I had to adjust momentarily to the idea that I was walking down a Glasgow street and not a Texas highway, dodging bin bags, not tumbleweed.
Taylor's ability to transport an audience with his songs borders on the supernatural. On Monday, though, more than ever, he was a tale spinner as well as a storytelling singer-songwriter, singing his stories and telling his songs in that cracked, smoke-n-whisky voice that coats words -- sung and spoken -- in sun-baked Texan authority.
His involvement in Texas Song Theatre, with friends and fellow troubadours David Olney and Denise Franke, seems to have added an extra actorly quality to his spoken delivery.
Thus his Kerouac-inspired Dean Moriarty was given added, chilling historical resonance by a kind of 1957 newsreel foreground.
Personal recollections of his grandma and grandpa, a Deep South/Welsh version of sweet'n'sour, a young friend dying of a wasting disease, and an 82-year-old neighbour who rode a mule, naked, up to Taylor's porch and accused Taylor of being weird, brought poignancy and hilarity.
Through all this, the songs, sung to spare, masterfully orchestrated guitar parts, form both link and soundtrack. Brilliantly chiselled, Taylor's poetry can set a scene in a line and capture a whole mess of trouble -- well, whaddaya expect when you choose a knife-thrower's wife as your mistress? -- in a verse.
His young friend declared Taylor's song for him as even better than popcorn. I can't top that for personal significance, but if PJ O'Rourke can describe Carl Hiaasen as better than literature, Eric Taylor is better than music.
The Great Divide review - Dirty Linen
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reviewed by Ace Eshleman in February/March ’07 issue of Dirty Linen Eric Taylor The Great Divid...reviewed by Ace Eshleman in February/March ’07 issue of Dirty Linen
Eric Taylor The Great Divide
"Stunning" is definitely not too strong a word to use when describing Eric Taylor's latest recording, The Great Divide. That one musician could cover such a range of emotion and wealth of experience within the scope of just 12 songs, and do it with understanding and grace, is a true gift to his listeners. Taylor's music possesses a most unique combination of sound and feeling. His guitar-picking style, a paradox of sorts, relies on strong, clear notes rather than fancy acrobatics, yet he displays an almost fragile quality at times. His road-weary vocals, sparse and knowing lyrics, and acoustic guitar accompaniment balance one another without seeming ponderous, in spite of his heavy subject matter. In "Shoes" Taylor muses about the attire he'll be wearing when he meets the devil, and in "Big Love," his protagonist is a painfully lonely 400-plus-pound man. Taylor also covers songs by Townes Van Zandt ("Brand New Companion") and blues legend Arthur Jackson ("Ain't But One Thing Give a Man the Blues").
The Great Divide review - Houston Press
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Eric Taylor By William Michael Smith Published: Thursday, January 19, 2006 Eric Taylor may...Eric Taylor
By William Michael Smith
Published: Thursday, January 19, 2006
Eric Taylor may have been born a Midwest Yankee and may these days inhabit the mantle of a Columbus, Texas, gentleman rancher, but his artistic lineage is grounded in Houston. And in the beat generation. And in the blues of Lightnin' Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb and other South Texas masters.
Like that of his contemporaries Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Taylor's work has always been anchored in the sparest, most wicked blues lines and licks, and deep in the heart of the artistic space occupied by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and John Clellon Holmes. The most intriguing title on his new Great Divide CD (Blue Ruby Records) is "Whorehouse Mirrors and Pawnshop Knives," a sterling example of Taylor's ability to draw on the poetics of both the blues and the beats.
Since suffering a heart attack a while back, Taylor has conquered his worst personal demons and settled down as a supremely confident artist. Raised in the class that included Van Zandt, Clark, Nanci Griffith, Steve Fromholz, Denice Franke, Dana Cooper, Shake Russell, Jack Saunders and Vince Bell, Taylor seems as strong and viable today as he did when his classic Shameless Love arrived on vinyl in 1981 and sent shock waves through the Montrose music community.
Taylor's recent shows have usually included several Van Zandt covers, and on The Great Divide he shows full mastery of Townes's oeuvre with a haunting cover of "Brand New Companion." His revisitation and reinterpretation of "Manhattan Mandolin Blues" becomes a riveting existentialist statement about music, art and the Life. Like Taylor at his best in concert, The Great Divide is sparse, concise and direct. No wonder it hits the bull's-eye. This is what being a Texas singer-songwriter is all about.
The Great Divide review - Freight Train Boogie
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http://www.freighttrainboogie.com/Archives/Archive-T.htm#GreatDivide ERIC TAYLOR ***** The Gre...http://www.freighttrainboogie.com/Archives/Archive-T.htm#GreatDivide
The Great Divide... (Blue Ruby)
Taylor gathered around the Texas songwriting bonfire that started in the early 1970's, along with Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Steve Earle. The Great Divide goes right back into the flames, recorded in Houston. This is a stripped-down classic, Taylor running short stories through your body like acupuncture needles, and you come out feeling better for the treatment. A mix of new and road-tested originals combine with bone-deep nods to mentors, as in Peg Leg Sam's "Ain't But One Thing Give A Man The Blues" and Van Zandt's "Brand New Companion", the latter opening out, stream-of-consciousness style, into variations on "Lulu's Back In Town" and "Dirty Dirty". Taylor's precise, dynamic guitar playing and midnight-narrative vocals are right across the table from you, with spare harmony vocals (Susan Lindfors) and percussion (James Gilmer) coming from the shadows behind. Raymond Carver and William Faulkner fill a booth in the corner, Lightnin's gotten into a bottle at the bar. Night time in Texas. Night time everywhere. This one's a keeper.
Released '06, reviewed by Doug Lang.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.