OTIS’ Latest Album Banjo … Released February 20, 2023
Banjo … is blues’ icon Otis Taylor’s 15th album. It was recorded in Boulder over a two-week period, with Otis Taylor’s band members flown in from all over the country for the occasion. It’s Otis Taylor at his best! This is a must-have masterpiece from one of the best blues musicians in the world. Pure Otis. You can listen to samples and buy the album below.
For blues legend Otis Taylor, ‘a wrong will be righted,’ 57 years later
Hall of Famer, expelled for long hair in 1966, received Manual High School diploma from Denver School Board May 15th, 2023.
OTIS’ Song Featured on “Walker Independence” Feb 23, 2023!
Tune in to hear “Few Feet Away” on the CW’s “Walker Independence” Feb 23rd. Check your local listings for times.
NEW! See OTIS’ 2023 Tour Dates!
OTIS’ Song in French Doc
We Blew It
How did America change from Easy Rider into Donald Trump? What became of the dreams and utopias of the 1960’s and 1970’s? What do the people who lived in that golden age think about it today? Did they really blow it? Shot in Cinemascope – from New Jersey to California – this melancholic and elegiac road-movie draws upon the portrait of a confused, complex and incandescent America one year after the start of the electoral campaign.
Luck on HBO
Otis Taylor’s “Nasty Letter”
Otis’s “Nasty Letter” is featured on HBO’s LUCK, episode 9, the final season. Check it out:
NEW YORKER MAGAZINE CONTRABAND
Otis Taylor – Contraband
How did America change from Easy Rider into Donald Trump? What became of 2/13/12 LISTENING BOOTH: THE PUNCH BROTHERS AND MORE
Posted by John Donohue
“Otis Taylor, a blues singer, guitarist, and banjo player who was born in Chicago and raised in Denver, started in music in the late sixties and seventies, and then gave it up for a while to become an antiques dealer. He came roaring back with ten albums in the last ten years, though, and his new one, Otis Taylor’s Contraband, is full of sharply rendered songs about a wide range of subjects, including the Jim Crow era, slavery, and romance. Listen to “Never Been to Africa.”
4 STARS – MOJO MAGAZINE
Otis Taylor’s New Contraband
How did America change from Easy Rider into Donald Trump? What became of The Chicago bluesman’s unique balancing act goes on. “A new album has to be different, but you can’t too different.” – Fred Dellar
M MUSIC & MUSICIANS
Otis Taylor’s New Contraband
“Otis Taylor watches through the window as the snow falls outside. Most would find it serene – a dusting on the mountains surrounding Boulder, Colo., the place he calls home. But not Taylor – ‘it’s dark and overcast’, he says with a shrug.” – Lee Zimmerman
OTIS TAYLOR AT HOME
“Otis Taylor kept busy during the next few years. He became a successful antiques dealer and an expert in what are now known as “mid-century modern” pieces. He also brokered the occasional vintage car and, in the 1980s, coached an amateur bicycling team. Taylor continued to play music with friends and family but no longer tried to make a living with it. Then, in the mid-1990s, a friend asked him to play for an event he was organizing.”
“The stark blues truth deftly and simply delivered”
“Taylor has shaped some of the most rewarding blues albums of recent times. Not for him the huge production values. All is simplicity, a return to basics, with the emphasis on hypnotic rhythms and textures created by a melding of Ron Miles’ fluid comet, Chuck Campbell’s pedal steel and subtle interjections from guitarist Gary Moore, a guest on two of Taylor’s previous releases.” – Fred Dellar
Otis plays in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies
“Truth is Not Fiction” gets 4.5 stars – – Best CDs Of The 2000s — With a new decade dawning, DownBeat looks back at the top recordings and pervasive music-industry trends of the last 10 years. Our retrospective study includes a complete listing of all the 5-star and 4.5-star reviews published in these pages since the turn of the century.
3OTH BLUES MUSIC AWARDS
Otis garners two nominations in 2008
The 30th Blues Music Awards nominate Otis Taylor in two categories. Acoustic Artist of the Year and Best Instrumentalist for the banjo.
RECAPTURING THE BANJO – A MASTERPIECE
Best CD of ’08
“The fascinating blues and blues-related music the six banjoists, with Taylor’s singer/bassist daughter Cassie, craft in various groupings, never everyone together, flows over with emotional honesty. There may not be a better roots album released this year or decade than Recapturing the Banjo.” – Frank-John Hadley (March) Downbeat
From MSNBC Website – Recapturing the Banjo
Otis Taylor, “Recapturing the Banjo” Bluesman Otis Taylor gathers an all-star cast of fellow blues revivalists and banjoists Keb Mo, Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Guy Davis, Don Vappie to pay brilliant tribute to the instrument rooted in the legacy of African-American music. Spurning banjo stereotypes (from minstrelsy to bluegrass) and keying in on the instrument’s rhythmic versatility, Taylor covers a broad swath of stylistic ground, including rocking blues, funky swagger, jazz-inflected melody, Creole dance, old-timey jug band and country blues. And in testament to the banjo’s role in a rock setting, Taylor nods to Jimi Hendrix in his charged rendition of Hey Joe. – Billboard 2/8/2008
USA TODAY – Recapturing the Banjo
Bluesman Otis Taylor gathers an all-star cast. Best known for its presence in the American folk and bluegrass scenes, the banjo has a history that traces back four centuries to the African xalam. Taylor, a multi-instrumentalist who has played the acoustic and electric banjos throughout his career, eloquently argues here for a renewed place in the blues with Creole songs and jug-band tunes, as well as his own haunting, history-steeped originals. Joined by bluesmen such as Keb Mo, Guy Davis, Corey Harris and Alvin Youngblood Hart, Taylor takes the banjo down alternate paths where Earl Scruggs might as well have never existed. – Mansfield
Downbeat Magazine – Recapturing the Banjo 5 Stars
The Huffington Post – Recapturing the Banjo
Bluesman Otis Taylor releases a very early contender for Best Record Of 2008. A record that oozes sincerity and moves musical mountains, Recapturing the Banjo, is NOT just 10 versions of Foggy Mountain Breakdown. Taylor’s point here is to show that the banjo and the music played on this instrument did not originate from Kentucky or the Carolinas, but in Africa Please don’t let Recapturing the Banjo slip through the cracks. READ MORE
REVIEWS – Recapturing the Banjo
“There is a history lesson to be learned here, but Recapturing the Banjo doesn’t aim to be a musicologist’s wet dream – banjos (even in the hands of Bela Fleck) have never sounded this vibrant.” – Harp
“The album shifts from impossibly haunting dirges to downright bouncy ditties without sounding like a thrown-together pastiche. The album, which is mostly originals with a few rearranged traditionals, is so strong in songwriting it’s pretty stellar throughout, with fleshed-out stories of slaves, black cowboys and good-old alcohol. There’s enough of Taylor’s trademark one-chord trance playing to keep it all driving” – Relix
“Lyrically, Taylor speaks out against prejudice from both the black male and female as well as from the native Indian’s perspective. The exciting version of Hey Joe does Hendrix proud here with Taylor and Youngblood Hart mixing the banjo, absolutely mesmerizing lap steel, and Taylor’s blistering electric guitar lead. This session features brilliant picking and high-spirited energy throughout.” – Elmore
Chicago Sun Times – Definition of a Circle #2 of Top 10 Blues Albums of 2007
“Otis Taylor was back at the top of his game with “Definition of a Circle,” an album as important as it is hauntingly beautiful. Taylor perfectly blends in the usually frenzied electric guitar of Gary Moore with his own banjo and acoustic guitar strumming”. – Jeff Johnson
Amazon Top 10 – Definition of a Circle Top 10 Albums of 2007
“Crackling with hypnotic energy, Otis Taylor’s eighth album infuses his cutting-edge blues with a dose of rock’n’roll exuberance. The blasting opener “Little Betty” gets some rocket fuel from blues-rock legend Gary Moore’s marvelously expressive, raw guest guitar as well as from drummer John Kelly, whose propulsion ignites several of these dozen tunes. Ultimately, though, Taylor’s one-chord magic comes from his knack for repeating catchy riffs until they become a seductive blur–a hip-shaking platform for his colorful explorations of love, war, joy, deprivation, and racial struggle. He’s also got a way with textures, spinning dirty guitar, prickly electric mandolin, his daughter Cassie’s haunting alto singing, and his own appealingly hoarse baritone into mesmeric arrangements for tunes like the Hurricane Katrina contemplation “They Wore Blue” that owe as much to Pink Floyd as to Muddy Waters. Taylor also pushes the envelope hard with “Long Long Life,” which blends jazz star Hiromi Uchara’s manic piano improvisations with Ron Miles’s free-form cornet as Taylor intones a curse on a disdainful lover. It’s a brilliant collision of styles and yet another fiery testimonial to Taylor’s unique artistic vision.” – Ted Drozdowski
Gibson’s Best Blues Album – Definition of a Circle
“Taylor is contemporary blues’ greatest visionary as both a songwriter, for his edgy social consciousness, and a soundsmith, for a self-branded ‘trance blues’ approach that makes his music bristle with hypnotic energy.”
Hear Otis in Concert at NPR – Otis plays at 50th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival – LISTEN HERE
Otis Taylor get spot in New York Times Crossword
Album reviews in the New York Times are standard for Otis Taylor, but the Boulder bluesman reached another level of cultural significance this spring when he spotted his name in the newspaper’s esteemed crossword puzzle.
“Nasty Letter” Featured in The Shooter
Otis’ song “Nasty Letter” is featured in the soundtrack of a new major motion picture Shooter, starring Mark Wahlberg.
Recapturing the Banjo – The Black Banjo Project
“One of the most innovative, thought-provoking blues artists to emerge in the last 20 years.” – Billboard
Recapturing the Banjo (Feb ’08) featuring Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Otis Taylor, and Don Vappie. WATCH THE VIDEO HERE
OffBeat Magazine – 3/07
“Taylor describes in the liner notes thusly: While watching television coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the South, an African-American man from the North wonders who will help. There’s only one verse-What would you do / if they wore blue / would you help them / would you help them too? / What would you do / if you had food / would you feed them / would you feed them too? As enigmatic as the significance of blue seems, the song is powerful, with Taylor layering electric and echoed acoustic guitar fills over an essentially static backing. Otis Taylor’s blues are self-consciously art, with unconventional instrumentation including the cello on Lifetime of Freedom, he employs four. He takes the essentially repetitive structure of blues to the logical conclusion, often reducing songs to a one or two-chord vamp over which he sings and plays guitar, banjo or piano. The lyrics are typically spare, often only a handful of phrases that gain or change meanings as they are repeated over the song’s three or four minutes. The songs typically have a strong social consciousness as well, even if that isn’t obvious from the lyrics alone. There’s an intriguing privacy to Taylor’s art, and his love of drones makes it all the more subtle and hypnotic.” – Alex Rawls
Otis Taylor has scored a new Documentary, “Purvis of Overtown” a Rural Studios Production
It has shown at these festivals:
- Miami International Film Festival
- New York International Independent
- Film Video Festival
- The Indie Gathering
THE YEAR’S BEST: RECORDINGS – Below the Fold
“This Chicago-born, Colorado-based songwriter is a late-blooming visionary. He may be the world’s foremost psychedelic banjo-playing bluesman, and his groove-based songs underpin lyrics that leave welts on the subconscious.” – Greg Kot, Tribune music critic December 11, 2005
Paste Magazine – Oct/Nov 2005
Otis Taylor, 3 1/2 stars — Below the Fold (Telarc)
“Contemporary songwriter testifies to the blues’ continued vitality. On his latest, Otis Taylor reclaims the banjo and fiddle-once mainstays of black string bands-busting out of the gates with opener “Feel Like Lightning,” a song loosely based on the civil-rights anthem “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round”. Taylor’s seemingly improvised songs build formidable trance grooves around the exceptional work of his backing musicians, his style resembling a country-folk version of spontaneous, talking-blues master John Lee Hooker. ” – Jim Motavalli