Taj Mahal Quintet

Featuring Charlie Musselwhite

Saturday, July 20, 2024

7:00 pm

Tickets starting at $76.70

For more than 40 years, Taj Mahal and bandmates Bill Rich and Kester Smith have taken blues on a joyride through reggae, funk, jazz, Cajun, and more, leaving a trail of swinging hips and raised palms in their wake. In 2019, the band added guitarist and lap steel virtuoso Bobby Ingano, and, more recently, a steel drum player soon to be named to round out the quintet. The five match musical virtuosity with downhome grit unlike anyone else: a blend of sophistication and humble familiarity that is equally at home on a “shotgun shack” porch or a Carnegie Hall stage.

Quantifying Taj’s significance is impossible, but people try anyway. A 2017 Grammy win for TajMo, his collaboration with Keb’ Mo’, brought his Grammy tally to three wins and 14 nominations, and underscored his undiminished relevance more than 50 years after his solo debut. Blues Hall of Fame membership, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association, and other honors punctuate his résumé. He appreciates the accolades, but his motivation lies elsewhere.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Elvin Bishop and Grammy®-winning harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite are fellow blues travelers and living blues giants. The two history-making musicians—both Blues Hall of Famers—have over 100 years of professional musicianship between them. They have known each other since the early 1960s, and now they have teamed up to make an album together. 100 Years of Blues, their new release on Alligator Records, is blues at its deepest, warmest, and most engaging.

The idea for the album was sparked in 2017 when the two icons laid down the original version of the song 100 Years of Blues for Bishop’s Big Fun Trio album. They found that, with their soul-deep understanding of the blues tradition, wry senses of humor, and similar outlooks on life, they had a special musical chemistry. In 2019, Bishop and Musselwhite joined forces and played a series of stripped-down shows—along with their mutual friend, master pianist/guitarist Bob Welsh—swapping songs and telling stories. The audiences went wild, and Elvin and Charlie had so much fun they knew they had to capture the magic in the studio.

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