On today’s installment of Beale Street Caravan, we present Eric Gales in a encore performance of his live show taped at The Levitt Shell in Memphis, TN. We originally aired parts of this amazing set last season, and this week you’ll hear some of the incredible moments we were forced to cut due to time constraints. We also bring a new face to the stage, guest Tasha Taylor. Tasha is the youngest daughter of legendary blues and soul great Johnny Taylor. We catch up with Tasha on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, and Barbara Ching tells us about country music and its roots in the blues.
About the artists:
Blues guitar phenom Eric Gales was born and raised in Memphis, learning to play at age four from older brothers Eugene and Manuel in imitation of their upside-down, left-handed style (a tradition actually passed down from their grandfather, Dempsey Garrett Sr., who was known to jam with the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf). Winning his first blues contest at 11, four years later Eric signed to Elektra to issue his 1991 debut LP, recorded with Eugene on bass; Picture of a Thousand Faces followed in 1993. Manuel (who previously performed under the alias Little Jimmy King) reunited with his siblings for 1995’s Left Hand Band, credited to the Gales Brothers.
A newly matured Gales returned in spring 2001 to release his debut for MCA, That’s What I Am. Often billed as the second coming of Jimi Hendrix, Gales, an adequate singer at best but a dynamite guitarist, suffered for the comparison. With Gales always influenced by Hendrix and the power trio format, his next albums, 2006’s Crystal Vision and 2007’s Psychedelic Underground, both released by Blues Bureau Records, seemed like facsimile Hendrix albums, right down to the album art. His next two releases from Blues Bureau, 2008’s The Story of My Life and 2009’s Layin’ Down the Blues, found the Hendrix influence muted somewhat, but Gales, a breathtaking guitarist at times, still seemed to be looking for a way out of the Hendrix shadow and into his own voice. Gales returned in 2010 with Relentless, a collection of 13 originals, and followed it with the passionate Transformation a year later in 2011.
In rhythm and soul, it’s bred in the bone. Tasha Taylor, the youngest daughter of pioneering R&B artist, Johnnie Taylor is having a breakout year with the release of her first solo CD, TAYLORMADE. And the magic will continue, when Tasha makes her Broadway debut, creating the role of Margie Hendricks in “Unchain My Heart,” the upcoming new musical based on the life and music of Ray Charles.
An entertainment triple threat, Tasha is a multi-talented musician, actor and performer. As a musician she is the complete package, an accomplished singer, songwriter, musician and now, producer of TAYLORMADE. Early R&B artists like Johnnie persevered, though often confronted with financial inequalities and social indignities but the rich heritage of their music continues to dominate popular music today. One of Stax Records’ major artists, Johnnie Taylor, remained on the road for four decades, providing for his family, and keeping his music alive. Tasha began traveling with her family on tour as a child and was constantly surrounded by music legends. Johnnie, by example, instilled his concept of dedication and hard work in pursuit of his music career. He never pushed his children to follow an artistic career…but that decision was taken out of his hands when early on Tasha decided to carry on his musical legacy. “I just remember being on the side of the stage…A LOT!” remembers Tasha. “Watching dad work shows with great artists…The Jackson 5, Natalie Cole,Sister Sledge, Johnnie Guitar Watson…and so many others over the years. ”Johnnie chose Dallas, Texas, Tasha’s childhood home, as home base because it was smack dab in the path of his winter and summer tours. And Dallas provided the opportunity to spend some time at home with his family, parking the tour bus in the back driveway.
Dallas gave up everything it had to offer to an up and coming soulstress, and subsequently Tasha moved to the northeast, enrolling in the Theater Department at Boston University. After semesters of polish and Shakespearean training, Tasha recommitted herself to follow her father’s muse. Was Hollywood or New York going to be her new home? A flip of a coin sent her west. Within a relatively brief time, she acquired on the job training, and the accoutrements of an entertainment career, coaches, agents, managers, producers, the gamut of services available to those who come to town with Talent Tasha adds, “My dad always told me that it was called show business for a reason. It’s 90% business and 10% show. If you don’t know your business…you’re in trouble!”She has been busy as a featured guest on acclaimed network fare such as “House,” and “Ugly Betty,” and in indie films, “Dimples” and the just released“Heaven Ain’t Hard to Find.” As a composer, her original music has been featured on “Men In Trees” and “Lipstick Jungle.” Tasha also performs live in concert, showcasing her fabulous voice in venues as diverse as the Detroit Blues Festival, New Orleans’ Jazzfest and for Friends of New Orleans at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.She has shared the bill with rhythm, blues and soul icons such as Aretha Franklin, Allen Toussaint, Taj Mahal, Carla Thomas, Susan Tedeschi and Buckwheat Zydeco, and Voice of the Wetlands—Tab Benoit and Donald Harrison. She also performs regularly with Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in their Blues Brothers engagements and on the road with Jack Mack and The Heart Attack.This year Tasha hooked up with producers Stuart Benjamin (“Ray”), and Noisy Neighbors’ Rob Arbittier and Gary Adante (Songs In The Key of Life), and headed for the recording studio to cut a new soul album in loving memory of her dad who passed away in 2000.
Employing some of the hippest, heavy-duty cats she could wrangle, with award-winning bassist Nate Watts as musical director, the result, TAYLORMADE, is thirteen, funky,unforgettable tracks,written, produced, arranged and performed by Tasha Taylor featuring her indelible first single, “Queen.” There is only one cover song on Tasha’sTAYLORMADE. On it, she performs with her father Johnnie “The Wailer,” in a throwback to his first million-selling hit on Stax, “Who’s Making Love.” A very “vintage” papa Taylor even accompanies her on the video! You can’t stop the rhythm of the music if the beat is in your soul…the lineage remains intact…and Daddy would be proud. So, if you haven’t heard of Tasha Taylor yet, you should have. And after TAYLORMADE …you will!