Saturday, January 10, 2009
Rock 'Ur Ass Off: Remembering Blues Man Sam Taylor
A week ago, the world-- and especially Tucson-- lost a blues great-- Sam Taylor.
I grew up listening to blues music back in northern Ohio. Chicago style blues was everywhere, since Cleveland is just down the street-- so to speak. In my teenage years, I was rockin' in my bedroom to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Koerner, Ray and Glover-- just as often as the Rolling Stones.
After I moved to Columbus, I frequented the blues clubs. The Dave Workman Blues Band with Willie Pooch was one of my favorite groups. These were my wild child days-- hanging around with musicians and other artists, staying up late, dancing with abandon, partying back stage. (Fond memories, for sure.)
When my significant other and I moved to Tucson 27 years ago, I thought we would never find blues in the Southwest as good as it was back east. Fortunately for us, KXCI, the local community radio station, started up not long after we arrived here. It continues to offer a variety of programming-- including great blues and updates on local bands and clubs. Through KXCI, we discovered Sam Taylor.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, we often heard Sam and his band at local clubs like the Chicago Bar and the Boondocks and regularly listened to his KXCI radio show. He electrified the room with his raw signing voice and down-home Chicago blues. Every night, he would start the gig by asking the crowded bar, "ARE YOU READY TO ROCK 'UR ASS OFF?" And, of course, we all enthusiastically replied, "YES!" and proceeded to do just that. It didn't matter if you had a partner or not. Everyone danced and boogied the night away.
Sam often played with Heather Hardy, an electric violinist. I always thought they seemed like as odd couple on stage-- the aging blues man dressed in black with a small leather cap on his head and the young, professionally trained violinist-- but musically they made a great duo.
Tonight at the Boondocks, Heather and other Tucson musicians will say "good-bye" to their soulman-- Sam Taylor. I'll be there rockin' my ass off-- along with many other fans.
See you on the other side, man.