Guitarist Dudley Taft Melds Blues with a Rock Attitude on New CD
Guitarist/singer Dudley Taft announces a May 7 release date for his new CD, Deep Deep Blue, coming from his own American Blues Artist Group Records. On Deep Deep Blue, Taft pulls together his influences – geographical, biographical and musical – and filters them through his blue soul. The result is a genre-busting slab of tunes, blending his Midwestern roots with his love of the blues, the British Invasion and Southern Rock, seasoned with songwriting and musicianship nurtured through 30-plus years as a musician. The new album, the second solo release from Taft, includes eight originals, plus deft takes on a diverse group of covers from Bob Dylan (“Meet Me in the Morning”), Lou Reed (“Sally Can’t Dance”) and Freddie King (“Palace of the King”).
Of the original tunes, Taft points out several for discussion. “‘God Forbid’ is an extension of the spaghetti western type of song we did on my last CD. Using the same protagonist who finds himself left for dead on the first album, the song provides a glimpse into the character's history. We kind of figure out what he did to make a certain person want to chase him down. ‘Wishing Well’ is my Americana song; it’s about hope and what you want out of life. It’s got an acoustic Neil Young flavor, a Crazy Horse-type of feel. And ‘Bandit Queen’ is a song I wrote about Pearl Hart. She was a girl who grew up reading Cowboys and Indians comic books around the turn of the century and decided she wanted to be like one of the characters. She left home, fell in love with a gambler and they robbed a stagecoach at a time when nobody was robbing them anymore. They got the money and were trying to hide, but ended up going in a big circle and getting caught close to where they robbed it. No one really knows what happened to her. One legend is that she joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.”
Dudley Taft’s slashing style of guitar playing, honed from years of work in a host of rock bands based in cities from Indianapolis and Houston, to Los Angeles and Seattle, has given his blues-fueled repertoire a decidedly edgier tone, which accentuates the tension and energy of the songs.
The songwriting and planning for Deep Deep Blue began in 2012, shortly after he moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The new CD was recorded at Seattle's Studio X and London Bridge, with drums by Scott Vogel and Chris Leighton, bass by John Kessler and keyboards by Eric Robert. Overdubs and Taft's guitar tracks were recorded at his home studio in Chapel Hill.
“I’m not going to try to be something that I’m not,” Taft says. “I’m not about regurgitating stuff that everybody has done before. The blues legends of old were breaking the rules; they were doing what they wanted. I'm just doing what comes naturally to me.”
That musical sensibility was nurtured by influences ranging from Ted Nugent, Kiss and Rush, to Foghat, ZZ Top and The Allman Brothers Band. In the early 1980s, Taft headed east to Connecticut. While attending prep school, Taft met Trey Anastasio (who would go on to play guitar for Phish) and formed Space Antelope, his first real band.
“Then it was out west to San Bernardino,” Taft recalls. He attended college there, but the call of music was too much for the burgeoning fret shredder, however, and he soon found his way into LA where he tried to find a band.
“It was all about the image and I had terrible hair,” he remembers. “In the summer of 1990, I heard Mother Love Bone’s EP, Apple, and it resonated heavily with me. It was REAL music. I drove up to Seattle to stay two weeks and ended up moving up there.”
For the next 20 years, Taft would become a fixture in the Seattle scene, forming Sweet Water, who toured the U.S. extensively with bands like Monster Magnet, Candlebox and Alice In Chains, and later Second Coming, who snagged a deal with Capitol Records and had a No. 10 hit single with “Vintage Eyes” and a song placed in the Bruce Willis movie, The Sixth Sense.
After the demise of Second Coming Taft, dug deep into his soul and uncovered the roots of the blues that had been planted there as a youth.
“I decided I wanted to do something different than another rock band,” Taft says, and after preparing to form what was initially going to be a ZZ Top tribute band, Taft discovered the magic of Freddie “The Texas Cannonball” King.
“That got me excited about having my own blues band,” Taft says. “I watched videos of Freddie, and the music is a bit looser and there is a lot of cueing going on. All the guys in the band are watching Freddie like a hawk. I wanted a band that understands that communication. And I thought: ‘dude I can play lead guitar all night long!’”
Teaming up with some A-list Seattle musicians, Taft recorded his first solo album, Left for Dead, and inked deal with Made In Germany records. A European tour ensued and was followed by Taft's relocation from Seattle to his new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“I’m just doing what comes naturally for me,” he says “I don’t have to write the next hit single. My original songs gestate themselves and emerge as they are. I don't try to make them fit any category. And if people like it, that’s good. I just play the guitar, keep my head down and roll with the changes.”
For more information, visit www.dudleytaft.com.