Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal - WNYC Soundcheck Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Blues guitarists Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal have been friends since the late 1960s and worked together on Raitt's 1973 album, Takin' My Time. But they’ve led separate touring careers ever since -- until now. Today, the two musicians join us to talk about reuniting for 30-date summer tour and about their respective brands of rootsy blues.
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
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" You blues greats are on tour for the first time this is Sam Jack I'm judges -- in the next hour we welcome to. Blues veterans to our studio. And later -- closeness among today's most enterprising concert pianists don't play live in our studio."
" Guitarists Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal are icons in the blues community in the they've been friends for decades."
" The multiple Grammy winners that never worked together before. Until now. The two musicians who last recorded together on the 1973 album Taking My Time some what you -- hearing now. Are reuniting for a thirty day summer tour kicks off on August 6 Williamsport PA. And I'm glad it brings Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal to our WNYC studio to the fifty welcome."
" it's it's your calling this the BonTaj roulet tour so it's kind of like. It's a it's a pun but it's also bilingual -- But why net after knowing each other for so long. -- why is it too -- to come together at this point. It was just the stars aligning because most of the time times headlining our own concert tour is to put a record an and a about eight management I usually do two years behind a record by the time -- plan everyplace. And they take a break -- and make another and so between outside projects in the real home life and if it you know if -- get -- with this just happened of the East Hampton in the back in my mind and I was -- and well and I get one of those Summers I'm not promoting a record. And if ties is ever free in my present this and -- had that idea for primetime live at that name for a long time. It's six or seven years from now on India he was up four and I Thomas at this that we can take down the road and the idea is to have a kind of umbrella festival. We're down the line we can have special this amount to different countries different types of music sitting in each other and -- under the umbrella month. So we could almost be like a law Lollapalooza Lilith fair you know exactly that's I was that the inspiration from the okay."
" And Taj I mean it has been you know it that the two of you have these really rich catalogs which you know as you both said it takes you know two years to tour behind one of these records so. I understand it would take this long to put something like this together and now that you actually have the opportunity. How we gonna do it."
" Pretty simply. Would it will be it will be alone and together. Business at hand and on real news sentinel com maybe it will please -- Com acoustic pieces together and and she -- that and welcome back onstage and you know. Different parts of both -- and haven't you know throw down. The night."
" Yes I imagine what that with the quality of musicianship that we have. Back in each one of us have an embryo is then is that some Cecil stars and it two of the guys have been in and out of my -- his horn players playing with me on my records and so for meeting get up with a full ban its -- so at Baylor player RB horns with the horn parts in -- and he says make up incredible parts to three players. You know it's going to be to slam."
" Now it we started the show today with a little bit of write me a few of your lives and Mississippi Fed may break out McDowell yeah."
" So when the two -- you get together do you tend to look at you know the older blues stuff word."
" I -- has has the repertoire sort of shifted a little bit recently."
" Not probably you know what we're we're really. I think -- we've -- and -- been trying to really cool when he years. It is really in you know opened this whole thing out. The music that we hear here in the United States. -- year it's on the it's on me or not is driven and Biden to cross. Fertilization between Africa and Europe and the United States you know and what what what what that music got of these blues and country and gospel and spiritual well it and it's like. It and no matter what you are -- world if you want to make that popular gist here. -- music you have to include. Some of that and and so where the you know I think it's sometimes -- to -- categories the blues categories such ism is kind of couldn't fine because it's a big it's even if you just say okay blues it's huge it's it's everybody's emotion. From zero to move to -- out."
" Chart you know you can listen to traditional music from like Egypt or Vietnam or places like that and think how. Since that keynote Ellis county delegates are supposed to me. There's going to be some notes it. Not I think in one of the things -- that holds. That makes us musical cousins as well as friends for all these years. Is that both of us have had such a wide taste and curiosity in appreciation for. What is now. Referred to as world music but early on Taj was a pioneer and showing connections with African artists and -- with international musicians and you know jazz is on the jazz -- as always appreciated that organization but -- he took even on his first two albums -- of them model for -- you really. Broke through and push the blues into new areas -- a Little Feat was doing that as well -- Ry -- of course you -- Simon Peter Gabriel. But really Taj was in the forefront of it for mean and he. He brings in elements of this Caribbean background and the African roots he goes to. And then he'd love Celtic music in -- in Spanish she's educated me so much about it so. For us is is going to be a matter of how we can even fitted into the show -- but he'll he'll hear comments in the size -- so far retention is gonna keep evolving. Week that you know everything from classic -- jump ups you know Chicago blues to. Caribbean songs to at some times as favorites a couple of signs of -- that I've always wanted to with him and a couple of surprises so. I'm -- and it's a never ending thing we can probably -- for you know when he album's worth this tell us."
" Problem we're speaking with Bonnie Raitt and Taj a hall whose -- Taj relate for. Brings them to Newark to NJ pack on August 11 and then to the Prospect Park band shell in Brooklyn on Wednesday August 12. And they're obviously here with me in the studio on centric today. Technology used it's needed the work with with African musicians is not something from your distant past I mean you've continued to do that. And you actually. Just back in 99 recorded with two money to Buffy the great West African Kora player. Is there I mean. How have you found that West African musicians especially to -- generation -- sort of still sort of younger guy that they're a little more aware of you know the debt that American blues men vote -- with the -- of their homeland of Molly."
" Not not so much I think what they see is that you know definitely the roots and trunk. And the branches. You know I mean. You know and the roots and -- are definitely in Africa with the practice. Go -- you know from there to other places -- To. Steal central South America apparently. The south you know. Particularly I mean it's like. There's a certain kind of if you like listen to Elizabeth the reverend Robert Wilkins or missed a huge honor. Born here you'll. And baker as classy people went right reverend Jerry Davis are blind or -- There's certain -- would deeply that you could put you can take any of those musicians over there and metal oxide and this would just be. This new version of all -- here which data have better."
" Well and a case in point Taj Mahal -- the -- and for a player to money to body on a song called Clinton beat."
" Let it."
" That is a Taj Mahal where if you money about it Molly and player of the Kora west Africans -- Queen bees from the 1999 album -- job which continues. Decades long interest -- Hollis in music from around the world -- Bonnie -- was telling us the whole world music -- something the Taj is. That's sort of pioneered how about you Bonnie how did you get into the blues."
" Grown up a California girl and the daughter of a broad wasted enough scanned my dad to kids you know he loved. They I have to -- wit my folks played art -- them and they played a lot of jazz. And you know early on I fell in love with -- I Jackson and I really love Chuck Berry Little Richard and Fats Domino was a gut -- and it wasn't that big of a leap when I started -- folk music. When I heard country blues I just naturally gravitated to -- news is something about it like the -- that insanely that I love are maybe it is. It's I think it was a music part time. Also you know there was a lot of The Beatles were doing our -- covers you know guys -- Brothers. You know I LA had a lot of Tex -- and Latin music. That and and Mexican music really lived as well as I was really exposed to radio stations used to play so much different music and you could hear it everywhere. But I must say they want to get the blues and woody here in the stones have probably heard money in. In slim Harpo and how -- wolf from the stones and -- it first. So but I heard a lot of people did yeah yeah there but I when I heard country blues on this vanguard album called blues in Newport 63. John Hammond gave Enron and looked at the color of them on the back next about it -- and -- and it pan am white. And that is digesting your plate and and they can play and I went up Tamara minor ticket -- but I taught myself everything -- record. And it was from then on the the blues -- kept me."
" Ellis handles pistols are starting -- 61. 61 and somebody submitting a budget as well -- and it could be imagine it was like out of every six of those enhancements my own. Book bags and guitars kind disrespected and go down there and beyond you know X actually brilliant putter sleep in days I mean I walk -- the morning. Would Roscoe Holcomb regain."
" and one of the great well bluegrass. That high lonesome sound as well as opposed to mean I think that's the future of -- means that I just do nothing but play. On there and -- festival. And silently affair coming up this stuff is the most fun. To cross generational. There's no party lines at people that smoke pot at at anything anything you and it's a new it's a new and effective burning man. That's -- yet they leave no trees ecologically you know making equipment we are getting it together into that rate we cannot be limited binary. I don't mean that the -- and -- just mean by the music business right -- and charts and on that nobody cares that they. That the radio people's yet writing -- I'm despondent and -- a -- real musician wanna have will have a career hopefully through the Internet and radio. And hopefully some CDs too much and it's out of business it is right it's a different model."
" Yeah I had any different business about -- coming because quite frankly. -- They cycle."
" Life is I mean you know to hear the industry talk it's like everyone's ready for bail -- money you know. And listen I've seen him down outfielder. -- the fifth if that -- you know."
" Music as well Patton -- this ultimately could have a pirate station on the."
" Was -- but this is what's happening is a good music does will out because on something like the Internet you can't you don't have those gatekeepers those those big recognize any controls but it just happened to figure -- if it paid fairly in the songwriters you know."
" for the whole performance by. And you know and it's important that people understand it would musicians -- this -- war we have this -- and songwriters. And the -- musicians and and silly people that -- on the radio and all of those it in that industry if it collapses it'll be really ashamed for. Music in general for the variety because. It once you have that have to get a gauge of which is also are defiant. These days because if -- up touring try to get back. All the people that have been put out of work -- you know you can't get back up again are those people already -- singing the blues I mean."
" Well an end in which are aware it is -- what is America -- all roles blues. Is not just. Whole -- and sold bed today I mean everything is so terrible little dog died all my crops are going down my woman let me all the kids -- Now that's not the you've got some of that and true it just isn't good news is that home. To be able to to an -- and honesty if she can present something that I don't care who you are if if if you've got some blood in you in your heart is being and you alive you can feel this here."
" People who grew up in the southern church talk about this thing called moon and oh yeah. I mean is that what you're talking about that -- as well part of it where where is just like you do steer out of words in the -- and then -- inning Celtic music its Keenan as you read the -- right exactly and you just yet. And that's why. I loved it's like guitars and -- play hard because when the voice can no longer. Take it election hand just minutes slated to -- in kind. You know that's -- it's -- celebrate our as well as an expert -- sentence. Speaking with a Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal thereof on Taj -- a good time blues tour. It comes to US NJ pack on August 11 -- the Prospect Park band shell on August 12. -- Thought she made a number of record by the time he came on the scene when did you first actually meet him and get to work with them I think he corrected me -- I thought it was at that -- Marcia but the -- atmospheric decline in this great manager and supporter of booking agent for Mississippi John Hurt -- that McNown skipped two games of any kind junior. And I met touch as living in Cambridge going to college and I -- 47 but I think I'm meant to. Either backstage. But you know I just admired him so much and and this was open always some time that we have been -- to -- And in 1973. Yup you got -- opportunity I started the record out little George and little feet and backing up the free Boe in the greater a prominent Iran's drummer. And lol went off to do -- and I called my friend John Hall is now congressman here from New York. -- the -- played with ties niceties do you have -- is number do you think he'd come and help. So John and and ties and help co produce the records Armenians. We haven't we had a ball I was just thank you so much for -- them on my favorite albums to -- eight through 1973. Was the year the album by Bonnie -- taken my time with Taj Mahal and men and."
" And I'm saying. Man that. Oh man. And and track and yeah. --"
" Everybody's crying and mercy Bonnie rate from."
" From her album taking my time recorded in 1973. -- Taj Mahal and more with deep bond Taj you know Bonnie Raitt Taj a hall in the moment."
" And then later on sound check the Norwegian pianist -- full of -- Smith talks about his collaboration. With -- South African born visual artist. Until -- live in our studio this is Sam --"
" Well here's something to talk about Bonnie Raitt and Joshua Paul touring together for the first time this -- sound check on judge -- fact talking with the blues -- Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal they've been friends since the late sixties and now hitting the road together. Starting next week on a joint tour. That they're calling -- Taj relay. And -- it's not I mean it's good times but there's a serious bit of."
" Businesses afoot here as well and you alluded to it before when you're talking about some of the festivals that don't leave. Like a carbon footprints behind them things like that you hurt your tour is there is. A dollar per ticket in my rank this guy's going to charity at least let's ticket. Combined from the audience donation and -- time donation Taj and I and then we invited. This is what's it really kind of breakthrough is at ticketmaster agreed to kick and then match. As well as music today and some of the promoters so. Between the 104 and ten -- thirty meet and -- have different different cities we have different sides receptions for after the show. Those tickets special seating are auctioned off and actually for the whole tour all the special auction charity tickets I think. Our agreement are pretty much gone but. But people between that and between the dollar ticket will be raising a lot of money for. Four different types of causes and people can go on but times dot com and vote. For where they would like their contribution to go at the moment. Believe in the lead is music it was education -- and that it's safe energy riches you know -- solar and -- and known hoops and and there's environmental protection groups and then there's social justice all of which all the groups he can count on as an activist all his years. That we've really vetted to groups that it would and there are a lot of transparency -- how they use the money. And and it's up to the people who made the the contributions to go to the website and determine where they want that to go -- So it's it's not just give money to charity it's. Give money to charity and tell us where you where you want that class -- and that you know if you wanna know an accounting of it there's a lot of you know we can -- explain why would pick each group. Why did I was gonna say how how did you make the decisions of the cherry -- all these years of having done that these kinds of tightening of my two -- in common -- an album and comes in and I mean -- after the show and fundraising as a way of combining my music with my activism. And you know inviting grassroots groups to table at the concerts I don't preach from the stage but. Over the years is that really good and I got a full time staff that that looks into which groups that are working on the Katrina issues that really your. Putting that the most bang for the buck and using the money so there isn't any malfeasance or. Accidental you know corruption of where the funds are going in and you know this much on first class this and that much to the program. So we really prided herself on the integrity of the groups that we're supporting but it's daunting to pick which ones they actually. The cream rises to -- in the good ones really and the ones that are the most. And needy needy our support of the ones that we chose. That he people been involved in farm -- grind."
" Over the years yeah. And taught you or is it true you were almost a former yourself -- You have -- upon them it's mind it is my basic and he. -- Okay. Plenty of water everybody action to date this deal was is that as -- coming up. Uncle pin in urban situation. As one generation. To generations -- them an aquarium S in my mother's side. In one generation. Only from a swearing in as some problems some -- American from South Carolina. And my father's from the Caribbean from Jamaica aren't -- most of us would make my from my clothes from Saint Kitts and Nevis. And -- use. Anyway it anyway so I'm more in my mother remarried and that Antonia. A fifties must have problems from Jamaica. That's what that's like talking him early in life but my interest was that I signed account you'll compromise is a kid you know thing. Or when he wanted to do the or you -- job like these other guys because somebody people who -- on your job and they want to. That's one thing in the fifties complexity. Okay and so I said well you know two things that people can't do deal without. It is fool music and food. And -- reason. You know you growing up in this country. And you've been brought to awareness is because of effective income from degree of musical tradition agree agrarian tradition. Still these are natural things that are in gain Aso. Like people whom. And so I started out you know edit I've found out later not a good thing going to vocational agriculture school was -- Anywhere from. The second third fourth grade on but it engage in -- About 92 as great as creative analyst and military isn't vocational goals. The solace of us. And then you know so episode two years."
" The first is fourteenth pick tobacco and connect him in sixteenth about. 2223. I was working on yours and raise some. Money. So just to be clear enough about living the life of the gentleman -- This is scored a serious -- quarter past wars 270. Acres. Okay court press 450 -- notes that. Force was machines okay. It. Worked it into the Lenovo. Says suddenly those long hours on the tour buy a stone seems so bag all the at least I. Whatever it is it's. You know it's all good --"
" An end so eventually either the forming gives way to the music. The first album natural blues. But natural blues has this is a great old song cold -- which we can hear a little bit of this is. This is early in the the career of my guess Taj Mahal. --"
" And and I still don't mean it's totally. And and not tell you there. Thought. Isn't there yeah. I wouldn't trade go to. You most home. Terrible it's."
" That is not from hall from the early record natural blues 1968 record and a money rates at near enjoy in his songs is this something that the that might appear. On this tour you know I have. I have so many attacks that I would like distinguish him. And but this is designed so that you played this has to feel this good this early in the days. I killed your colleagues and is so you know when you have this much love and respect. And it's fresh like this and with -- predominant many things he and I -- ones. And two together is this is it real time. So --"
" The blues have been around it seems for forever I mean they have although we've fixed that term to a specific type of music from eightieth century or so or a new century now what's the the place of the blues and 21 century America."
" Humans are believers in America and yet I mean we just need to -- looked into it right in the Middle -- says he'll think that the blues -- like I say things yielding good. -- You know. -- Madoff okay well money -- think if people at the close. All right let's let's get straight here."
" I think I think the Internet and satellite radio and so many. That explosion. Of appreciation and ability to dig deep and see where the branches in the roots come from. It's so much more accessible than it used to anyway instantaneously. And and things like. Festivals allows people to they may love Jack Johnson but any sentiment in our friends and I visited. And well whose ties and who's blind lemon Jefferson who just so that where it is it's a living breathing blues festivals have never done better. He. Where the roots of it. And and my dream is to us you know being able to get appreciation of black blues music into the schools urban cities. People can understand it's their own tradition and celebrated with this crime is still a little out of reach so in this country I hope. Education. Is this music."
" In all great. Lives as you said right now on the the bond -- website it's the music education charity that the run and first. And people who. Go to the bond Taj tour -- on relays the official name. Can determine where the charity portion of the proceeds go on the website on Taj dot com. Details on the new sounds be at the centric page of our website WNYC dot or again -- Bonnie Raitt Taj Mahal. At NJ -- in Newark on Tuesday August 11 in the Prospect Park band shell on Wednesday August 12. Here in our studio this afternoon Bonnie Taj a real pleasure thanks so much. And again. And still to come -- performance from classical pianist latest move on to list tomorrow on the show a look at -- aboard the Brooklyn born singer who helped break barriers for African Americans during the twentieth century. Tomorrow exemption."
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Source: WNYC Soundcheck