But Saturday night it was pure blues. He performed with his trio; just Taj and a drummer and a bass player. This sort of trio usually sounds spare, but Taj fingerpicks, whether on acoustic or electric, and he is so skillful a weaver of sound that the music did not have the bare sound usually associated with a trio (think Cream).
They opened with raw electric blues, then switched to acoustic “country” blues, then back again to electric, with some banjo and dobro thrown in. Taj Mahal is not only a masterful musician, he is a consummate showman, personal and funny.
I took my 14 year old and 12 year old sons with me; they are musicians and the elder is a big blues fan. They had a great time, and it later occurred to me how odd it was that my sons and I bond over music; the thought of my dad and I enjoying a blues or a rock concert together was strange. Perhaps we should have seen johnny cash together.
As we left the park the sky exploded with fireworks, right over our heads. The park is right next to Akron’s minor league field, and I don’t know what they were commemorating but it was spectacular. Ashes rained down on our heads, and the whole thing seemed to seal the night with magic. Joey, the 12 year old, acts tough and cynical around his older brothers, but he is still a child, prone to wonder. His eyes got wide; “Do they do this every night in Akron?”
The only disappointment was how many of my favorite tunes did not get played; No “Johnny Too Bad”, no “Take a Giant Step”.
Here is only one of my favorite songs that he did not perform: