THE HUM

Blues artist Wil­liam Topley makes Taos the opener for U.S. tour

Tempo - - CONTENTS - By Ariana Kramer

Bri­tish mu­si­cian Wil­liam Topley is back in the U.S. through April for a string of con­certs at his usual spots: Den­ver, Austin, Port­land, Ore­gon, Nashville, Bos­ton and the sunny state of Florida. Lucky for us, he is start­ing out in Taos.

See Wil­liam Topley Fri­day (Feb. 23) from 8-11 p.m. at the KTAOS So­lar Cen­ter, 9 State Road 150, north of El Prado. Lo­cal leg­end mul­ti­in­stru­men­tal­ist Jimmy Stadler opens the evening with a mix of clas­sic hits and orig­i­nal tunes.

Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler has called Topley “big-hearted, emo­tional and strictly le­git.” Pro­ducer Neil Dorf­s­man (Sting, Dire Straits) has said Topley is “the most orig­i­nal song­writer I’ve heard for years.”

In an in­ter­view with Tempo, Topley said his song­writ­ing these days is in­spired by “phrases that spark as­so­ci­a­tion.” For ex­am­ple, he said the ti­tle for his lat­est EP, “The Sea Is My Re­li­gion,” comes from Ernest Hem­ing­way’s, “Is­lands in the Stream.” He has also been in­flu­enced by odd signs such as one for a cot­ton gin in Tay­lor, Texas la­beled “Water­loo Gin” and an of­fice sign for “Loveless Hunter” spot­ted in the United

King­dom. This past year, Topley was in­vited for a solo res­i­dency at Austin’s Con­ti­nen­tal Club. Topley, who has been a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian for decades, said it was his first time play­ing solo with­out a back­ing band.

“I’d never played solo ever be­fore,” said Topley. “It was ter­ri­fy­ing at first. The up­side is once you’ve gone through it, it’s good for your con­fi­dence.”

In 2017, Topley also spent time in Tay­lor, Texas re­con­nect­ing with his south­ern mu­si­cal roots. Topley re­flected that these in­cluded mu­si­cians, such as The Sta­ples Singers, Robert John­son, Howlin’ Wolf and Otis Red­ding.

“Otis Red­ding was a big in­flu­ence on me in terms of ac­tual singing style,” said Topley. “He’s one of those peo­ple like Jimi Hen­drix who was re­ceived as a big­ger star in Bri­tain then in the U.S. ini­tially.”

Topley is also in­flu­enced by the rhythms of the Caribbean and Ja­maican reg­gae. Six times over the past eight years, Topley has hosted a fan trip for mu­sic lovers: once in Spain, once in Ja­maica and four times in the Ba­hamas.

Topley says the Ba­hama event in­cludes, “Three nights of mu­sic, in­clud­ing a pri­vate beach party, a lo­cal rake and scrape night col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ba­hamian mu­si­cians, and a re­quest night. Plus, snor­kel­ing and golf cart tours to the world-renowned pink sands beach in Har­bour Is­land.”

“It’s a very small is­land, and you just drive around in golf carts,” ex­plained Topley. “It’s a won­der­ful lit­tle is­land. It’s quite dif­fi­cult to get to be­cause you have to take a lit­tle pro­pel­ler plane and then a boat, but once you’re there, the is­land does a lot of my work for me. It’s mostly re­peat cus­tomers.”

This year, Topley is fin­ish­ing up a new al­bum with his band and also work­ing on a solo pro­ject of cover songs re­done in a blue­grass style. He said most of the artists he is cov­er­ing are Amer­i­can women mu­si­cians, such as Ste­vie Nicks, Shelby Lynne and Sh­eryl Crow.

For his Taos show, Topley will be joined on­stage by a U.S.based bassist and drummer. They will be play­ing songs from Topley’s “Black River,” “Span­ish Wells” and “Water Taxi” CDs.

Topley said it is “al­ways a priv­i­lege to come to Taos and to ex­pe­ri­ence the unique at­mos­phere.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to williamto­p­ley.com or visit Wil­liam Topley on Face­book. Call the venue at (575) 7585826.

RICK RO­MANCITO

BRI­TISH BLUES ARTIST WIL­LIAM TOPLEY pic­tured in per­for­mance at the 2015 Taos So­lar Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

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