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Thursday May 25, 2017
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Otis Taylor

 

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the horrid state of commercial radio in this city (thank you, Clear Channel) and the massive number of blues records fighting for airplay on public radio, artists like Taylor have their work cut out for them catching the public's ear — mine included.

Fortunately, Taylor's upcoming Ark gig on Wednesday, August 13, prompted a second look. The new CD is actually Taylor's fifth. Collecting eleven originals and a cover of Big Joe Williams's "Baby Please Don't Go," it's a rainbow of American roots music, blending a Guthriesque political awareness with the voodoo darkness of Fat Possum Records acts like R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, with a bit of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks Zen tossed in for good measure. Which is pretty amazing for a guy who makes his home in Colorado, where for the last two decades he has been running an upscale antiques business.

Taylor's blues world is a snapshot of good and evil, from "Rosa, Rosa," an upbeat lap steel guitar anthem to civil rights icon Rosa Parks, to "House of the Crosses," the saga of a man conceived during a rape who ends up guarding his biological father in a Russian prison. One minute he's celebrating life; the next he's watching, in the best blues tradition, as horrible things unfold.

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