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Thread: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    I'm reading Taj Mahal: Autobiography of A Bluesman, and learned that Taj has played mandolin since his teens or early twenties. Does anyone know whether he's been recorded playing mandolin? There's a mandolin on "Fishin' Blues," but he's not playing. By the way, it's a good book from an intelligent, thoughtful man with decent values, though not great entertainment for those with fantasies of "the blues lifestyle."
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    I've been a Taj Mahal fan since 1972. Anyone who likes his guitar style needs to go to the source, Mississippi John Hurt, because much more pleasure awaits you there.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    If Taj Mahal won't come to the mandolin, then let the mandolin come to the Taj Mahal Palace. I came across this gem while searching YouTube for Taj playing mandolin. I'm afraid it's not recorded at the real Taj Mahal with its beautiful acoustics (see: Paul Horn, Inside for that), but I'm not complaining.

    If the links don't work, search YouTube for"Sachin Patwardhan performing (Elec. Mandolin) at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai".


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMxTly__2xY

    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    [QUOTE By the way, it's a good book from an intelligent, thoughtful man with decent values, though not great entertainment for those with fantasies of "the blues lifestyle."[/QUOTE]

    Thank You for this. Reminds me of reading about Frank Zappa or Alice Cooper. No rock n roll life style. Just making music and money.
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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Bill View Post
    Thank You for this. Reminds me of reading about Frank Zappa or Alice Cooper. No rock n roll life style. Just making music and money.
    Well, Zappa wasn't into drugs, but was certainly into casual sex on the road. His groupies became celebrities in their own right. I remember from his autobiography -- it's decades since I started it and abandoned it due to boredom -- that he was busted as a young man for making pornography. I'm not condemning, just commenting. I don't imagine Taj was a saint by my mother's terms either, but his friends, musical peers, and acquaintances have great respect for him. I once watched him demonstrating musical instruments to a little boy, as he was waiting to perform at a festival. He seemed like a warm, kind man.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Zappa got busted for making a musical soundtrack for a porno which is significantly different IMO.

    I totally agree with your larger point about not confusing the art with the artist.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    I don't imagine Taj was a saint by my mother's terms either . . .
    His given name is Henry Saint Clair Fredericks. He just might meet your mother's standards.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    His given name is Henry Saint Clair Fredericks. He just might meet your mother's standards.
    I watched Taj participating in an commonplace illegal activity -- at which point he stopped answering the little boy's questions --that I also participated in regularly, of which my mother wouldn't have approved. Such activity now legal in Canada by the way. As this is a public and international forum, here I draw the veil.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    By the way, it's a good book from an intelligent, thoughtful man with decent values, though not great entertainment for those with fantasies of "the blues lifestyle."
    Your one-line book review is difficult for me to decipher. Perhaps the third phrase is saying more about Ranald than anything else? Makes me wonder what you consider to be "the blues lifestyle", and what you intuit that other's fantasies of "the blues lifestyle" are?

    OTOH, as a fan of Taj Mahal your description of the autobiography as "a good book from an intelligent, thoughtful man with decent values" sounds like an interesting read. And would be cool to find audio or video of his mandolin playing. Seems like I've read something about this somewhere before.
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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Your one-line book review is difficult for me to decipher. Perhaps the third phrase is saying more about Ranald than anything else? Makes me wonder what you consider to be "the blues lifestyle", and what you intuit that other's fantasies of "the blues lifestyle" are?

    OTOH, as a fan of Taj Mahal your description of the autobiography as "a good book from an intelligent, thoughtful man with decent values" sounds like an interesting read. And would be cool to find audio or video of his mandolin playing. Seems like I've read something about this somewhere before.
    It's not my stereotype but a very common one, meaning that a blues musician is into carousing, drink, drugs, unfaithfulness to spouse, neglecting family, gambling, hoboing, or some combination thereof. I've heard the expression used this way often for many years, even within the last few days. My brother used to play with an old Afro-Canadian bluesman, and was bugged by the many (white) fans who would ask "Does he live the blues lifestyle?" while hoping for salacious stories. If the "blues lifestyle" consists of working hard, travelling about, and playing music, the man lived the blues lifestyle. If it consisted of dissipation and not supporting his family, he didn't. Blues musicians, like many other musicians, fit into either category, but sadly some people want blues people not only to be good musicians but rogues as well. Again, I assure you, that's not my stereotype, and I don't have any hostility to musicians who do live hard -- I haven't walked in their shoes. However, I am bothered by people who want blues people to be like that. Still, some bluesmen play to the image. Audiences come to see the person who is said to have shot someone or sold his soul to the devil.

    And, as you were saying, it would be great to hear Taj on mandolin. I believe Ry Cooder played mandolin with him at times.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    I had read that Taj Mahal can bar a guitar from the top with his thumb due to his large hands. I'd love to see what kind of chording he can do on a mandolin.
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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    To come back to Ranald's question:
    I had a look at my Taj Mahal records and cds and found one reference to TM on mandolin: on 'Music fuh ya' (1977). I'll try to find out on which song(s) he plays mandolin.
    Ry Cooder plays mandolin on one TM record: 'The celebrated walking blues', a song from 'Taj Mahal' (1968).

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    I saw Taj play a National Mandolin in the early 70ís at the Bottom Line in NYC.Stevie Wonder was a surprise guest.Great club.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    IIRC, Taj played mandolin on a song during the tour last year with Keb Mo. Killer concert, BTW.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Winn View Post
    IIRC, Taj played mandolin on a song during the tour last year with Keb Mo. Killer concert, BTW.
    There are several YouTube vids of the two of them in concert. I jumped through a couple, but couldn't find Taj Mahal playing mandolin, just acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica, and guitar-banjo. A more intense scrutiny might turn up a song or two, though; I can't play two 90-minute vids at regular speed just to look for mandolin...you could try...
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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    There are several YouTube vids of the two of them in concert. I jumped through a couple, but couldn't find Taj Mahal playing mandolin, just acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica, and guitar-banjo. A more intense scrutiny might turn up a song or two, though; I can't play two 90-minute vids at regular speed just to look for mandolin...you could try...
    Thanks, Allen. I'm not sure I'm ready for that much detective work either.
    By the way, I was reading in Taj Mahal's book that in the 60's, before he had his own recording career, Taj and Ry Cooder performed and recorded together with others in a group called The Rising Sons. It's hard to imagine that group didn't play mandolins now and then. Their record, Rising Sons, Featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder wasn't released till 1992, because of the band's refusal to bend to bullying, regarding royalties, by record company executives, according to Taj. I have no idea yet whether there is mandolin on that record.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Allen Hopkins
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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Thanks for that, Allen.
    I'm not having much luck finding Taj playing mandolin, but Ry Cooder plays mandolin on "By and By (Poor Me)", "If The River Was Whiskey," and "Candyman," all Rising Sons, Featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder. I found some other good blues by Ry, along with what's on this album. I'll feature him on the next "Blues, Stomps, & Rags."
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Looks like 8 strings on the TajMo album cover. https://www.amazon.com/TajMo-Taj-Mah.../dp/B06XH1Q5K8

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Johnston View Post
    Looks like 8 strings on the TajMo album cover. https://www.amazon.com/TajMo-Taj-Mah.../dp/B06XH1Q5K8
    Thanks, Mark. I wasn't expecting to hear more on that topic. I'll have to check that out.

    Can someone identify the instrument that Taj is playing?

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    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Saw him in concert in 1970 or possible 1971. Best concert I was ever at. Would love to check out the book.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    He played a lot in New York in the 70’s.Saw him at the Fillmore with horns and full band.Four tubas on one song.Also Hot Tuna that night with Johnny Winter.No mandolin except at the Bottom Line.

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    Default Re: Taj Mahal on mandolin?

    Taj played bass on several gigs with Grisman, Garcia, & Richard Green in a band called the "Great American Music Band". There were a few variations in lineup. This is after OAITW and before the Great American String Band where Grisman & Richard Green carried on w/o Garcia, Musicians like John Carlini, David Nichtern & Maria Mauldaur were part of various lineups....... this is all pre-DGQ but they played a few great early Dawg tunes in these bands.

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