Rhythm & Roots Fest Countdown: Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal? He might put a reggae bottom on Woody Guthre, sing a jazz tune, make a banjo ditty hark to its African sources, or mess around with kids’ songs. Don’t forget the Hawaiian influence. With every step forward, the beloved blues master – now 74 – illustrates the kind of rewards that arise from having a catholic world view. And I love his variety of voices. That throaty growl, nasty whisper, and pliable coo help widen his artistic persona. Last time he played the Rhythm & Roots Fest, it was one of those seductive situations, intensity building a step at a time. People swaying, people shaking, and finally, people stomping. He can roll through a shuffle like “Good Morning Miss Brown” plunk his way through the forever radiant “Tom and Sally Drake,” or set a groove that instantly pulls you in. His trio of Kester Smith and Billy Rich is a jewel of a band – pliable, aggressive, wise. Don’t miss on Saturday.

The Rhythm & Roots Fest takes place at Ninigret Park in Charlestown, RI, Sept 2-4.

Performers include Donna the Buffalo, Lucinda Williams, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin with the Guilty Ones, the David Grisman Sextet, and lots more.

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