On Saturday Morning 8 February 2014, Yippee Ki-Ay Blues had a wonderful opportunity to sit down and have a chat with upcoming rising Blues musician Dudley Taft. I really hope you enjoy this awesome one-on-one chat with Dudley. I know I feel very honored to have this awesome opportunity and relished every moment I had with Dudley. You will see why yourself as Dudley is truly the real deal and will become one of the best bluesman in the very near future.
YIP: You begin to play the blues in Seattle Washington in 2006, what exactly inspired you to play the blues at that time? There had to be something that turned the switch on for you.
Dudley: Sure, ummmm well there are two short answers ZZ Top and Freddie King. I had been in a bunch of Rock bands for most of my life. In 2006, my last Rock project fell apart and I wanted to do something a little bit different. I wanted to do something that was comfortable and fun. You start going down your career paths and sometimes you can waiver away from something that is really fun and rewarding to do. So I just said “Yanno I just want to pick together some ZZ Top side project and just play it.” At that time, I got a bunch of guys together and learned a few of ZZ Top songs. This was in the early days of YouTube where you could search the songs and see how it faded out in the end. You can see how they play it live and how they do it. As I was surfing around I saw this Freddie King video and it was an instrumental tune from Live DVD in Europe 1974-1975 somewhere in there. He (Freddie King) just blew me away, I was completely captured by his charisma and the way he commanded the band. Plus how he interpreted the songs like “Ain’t No Sunshine” was fantastic. So I added that flavor to as well. As I poked around more, I discovered Albert King, Johnny Winter, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and people that I didn’t really know that much about when I was a kid. I grew up on Classic Rock and British Invasion and Southern Rock which was based on most of these old blues guys. When I grew up that was all to me, I didn’t know the history behind it. Once I got into the Freddie King thing, I said “Wow. I can’t do it like he did. But I can do something in that vain. I think that would be very rewarding and it’s turned out to be”.
YIP: Excellent ! I get that vibe from you throughout your songs when I spin your tunes to those in the Meta-verse and people begin to inquire about your name and who are you during my shows. My next question is, during my DJ shows to start the second half of the show, I always spin your tune “Sally Can’t Dance” and this always gets the listeners up while shaking their bootay’s. What song on the Deep Deep Blue CD do you really enjoy performing in your live sets?
Dudley: That tune Deep Deep Blue is slow and pretty long and it takes a lot out of me to sing that and make it happen. Sometimes in that song I tend to forget where I am. Laughs….I close my eyes and drift away. I am really proud of that song, it’s got the slow minor blues kinda element with a little of jazz with a bridge that you don’t normally hear in blues. I am really proud of that one, I think it’s an evolution of the blues. Bo Diddley famously said “Don’t give and take, innovate” That’s a good example of me. Coming up with something new. But you mentioned “Sally Can’t Dance” Lou Reid was a huge influence on me while growing up though I did listen to many of the guitar players. Though, the songwriters that really admired, Lou Reid was the one. His early greatest hits record in his solo part “Best of Lou Reid, Walk on the Wild Side”. That whole album was fantastic a smattering this and that. “Sally Can Dance” was a favorite of mine at 12 years old and playing that is a blast. Another song “Meet Me In The Morning” by Bob Dylan tune off the blood of the tracks that we do, there is a story that and we do it with some contour, that goes over pretty well and it’s always a blast to play.
YIP: What do you wish to bring to the blues genre that is different from your peers and colleagues that will make you stand above all and shine ?
Dudley: Well…laughs laughs….Ahhh Man….I think your question is “What do you think I am going to bring to the picture that is unique?” I am gonna say a couple of things. My songwriting and guitary playing. I think songwriting wise for me, I can’t do just a regular 1, 4 or 5 I’m almost completely incapable of doing something like that. On the first album I’ve done “When You Ever Love A Woman”, I did it as a minor blues and that’s the only time I did a standard blues thing. I want to hear interesting stuff going on inside these songs. My songs a lot of times will have bridges, breakdowns, quiet verses, extended solo’s and things I call epilogues. Things that happen at the end of the tune that keep going. Each part for me adds a kind of flavor, vibe, and mood. I don’t know I am hoping that people identify me with this kind stuff this song structure. It’s really perhaps bringing in a little bit of Rock from Pop song structure into the Blues. Not to say I can’t do some North Mississippi style thing that’s more rhythm. I am writing the fourth album right now, there is a few that I would consider to match that style except that they have some changes in there. Hopefully, that is what I am bringing into the picture.
As far as guitar playing, when I was younger I copied people. One of the very first songs I learned was a solo of “Freebird” and how to play “Stairway To Heaven”. Some Jeff Beck licks and played his tunes note for note, really after that I stopped doing that. I’ve just really develop my own style with riffs and runs. I think the way I put things together sound different from a lot of people. I do not play a standard handful of Texas licks or I don’t a lot of what I call Emily’s or Ernie’s. Yanno, Ernie Ernie Ernie, Emily Emily Emily….that kind of stuff…laughs. I try to stay away from that kind of stuff. When I was in the 7th grade, my teacher criticize my writing style as being circumlocutionary. So, of course, I went home to ask my parents what the hell that meant…laughs Essentially, it meant “Beating around the Bush”, so where a lot people go this phrase of song needs to end here and on this note. I’ve already thought about that and I can’t just do it that way. I am going to end it on a different place on a different note because I think that’s cool while it adds flavor and being very different as well. So if you listen to my solo’s, hopefully you get a little bit of that in there. I’ve practice so hard for so long playing the guitar, almost 35 years now. I’ve come up with my own vocabulary which is different I think. Hopefully, I am bringing something to the Party right there, that is different.
YIP: Oh yes you are ! I can definitely tell during my DJ shows where people become very animated during your songs. If given a choice, where would you love to perform and why? Example outdoor stage, indoor venue, city, state, or country.
Dudley: Ohh ! Where would I like to perform, geesh. I’ve had some fantastic experiences playing outdoors, I remembered one in 1998. We played somewhere in Vermont a ski area and the stage faced the mountains. We got a lot of radio play back in those days and the song I wrote came up in the playlist. The people were singing to it while the sun was going down, displaying that red/purple’s glow which turned out to be an amazing sunset. I like all kinds of venues and stages, ever place has it’s own appeal. Even the small clubs with energetic crowd, who are singing along. Bigger venues are fun as you are reaching more people and in my case, that’s the magic of getting good exposure in those Blues Festivals. The thing is, people come out not to see you but all the new bands and that can be a thrill to play for. Especially, when you begin to play the set you can see the people get it and digging it that’s huge labor rewarding. I would love to play at theatres, Red Rock or something. The Gorge in George Washington. The most important thing to me is to get out there, making my art and expose my music, that is a great joy in my life.
YIP: Yes, I agree I find that very inspiring when I try to expose people about certain artists in the blues. I have one certain listener who regularly attends my DJ shows who always mentions the fact I am making him go broke since he is always buying new CD’s from i-Tunes after listening to my show. It’s rewarding to me to expose different artists as yourself to the listeners and when they respond with comments like “I’ve never heard him or her before or What is the name of the artist?” Right then, I know I’ve accomplished my mission for the night as I successfully grab one or a few listeners ears which indirectly is profitable to the artist.
Dudley: laughs, thanks Cool ! I thank you very much for that.
YIP: Here is a good question, it’s going to be a tough one so I am warning you since I want to gauge your internal feelings about this. In your most humble opinion, where do you foresee the blues genre heading towards in the next century? Leaning more towards Blues-Rock or would there be another new offspring that integrates inspiring innovate ideas and instruments?
Dudley: There are some trans-blues interesting stuff going on right now that is really interesting. I think if you listen to popular music now like Mumford and Sons and Imagine Dragons sorta of been a great many influences that forms this potpourri sound and which is becoming more worldly. Perhaps the blues will become more worldly and that will certainly be much a chagrin to the blues people who wishes to remain with the traditionalists blues. I always think there will be a pocket of traditional blues carrying on with people playing it. But one of my ideas doing something fresh…..
To listen to the chat with Dudley in it’s entirety just click on the player below for Part I & II and enjoy. I tell you this much Dudley Taft will soon be making the headlines in the Blues Genre as he has what it takes to get to the next level.