Daugh­ter of blues veteran sets out to re­count her own story

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music - By Mark Jor­dan

Last week­end, 26-yearold Cassie Tay­lor found her­self in a po­si­tion a mu­si­cal artist of any age would envy: jam­ming on bass on stage along­side ac­claimed mu­si­cians Chuck Camp­bell of sa­cred steel greats The Camp­bell Brothers, Ge­orge Porter Jr. of New Or­leans leg­ends The Me­ters, and her fa­ther, 11-time Blues Mu­sic Award nom­i­nee Otis Tay­lor.

“It was amaz­ing,” Tay­lor says of her ap­pear­ance at her fa­ther’s Trance Blues Jam Fes­ti­val in her na­tive Boul­der, Colo. “The funny thing is I don’t hang out with a lot of other 25-year-old mu­si­cians. I have al­ways been hang­ing out with peo­ple who are 40, 50 or 60, so I’m just play­ing catch-up to them. They’ve al­ready been tour­ing for 20 years, and I’m like, I’ve only been do­ing this two years on my own and be­fore that eight years with my dad. So I feel like I’m al­ways be­hind.”

But she’s catch­ing up. Af­ter an ado­les­cence spent as a side­man, in re­cent years, Tay­lor, who per­forms a three-night en­gage­ment with her trio next week at Beale Street’s Rum Boo­gie Café, has emerged from the shad­ows. Last year, she teamed with fel­low young fe­male blues artists Sa­man­tha Fish and Dani Wilde in the su­per group Girls With Gui­tars, re­leas­ing a self-ti­tled al­bum and play­ing more than 200 dates.

This sum­mer saw the U. S. re­lease of Tay­lor’s first solo record, Blue, be­hind which she has al­ready toured Europe twice as well as stretches of the Amer­i­can South and Mid­west.

Tay­lor at­tributes her rapid devel­op­ment to the ac­cel­er­ated ed­u­ca­tion given her by her fa­ther, a Chicago na­tive who over a dozen al­bums has forged a rep­u­ta­tion for un­flinch­ingly mod­ern lyrics and mu­sic that dar­ingly rein­ter­prets blues tra­di­tions. When Cassie was just 16, Otis Tay­lor, who had been ob­sessed with his old­est daugh­ter be­com­ing a bassist ever since he heard her play “Hey Joe” on the in­stru­ment a few years ear­lier, dra­gooned her into his band, where she re­mained for eight years.

“When you’re 16, the most im­por­tant thing is who’s go­ing to prom with whom not where are you go­ing to tour in­ter­na­tion­ally with your dad’s band,” she says. “That is über­lame. I prob­a­bly hated it at the time, but when I look at it in my life now, I was so lucky.”

Nev­er­the­less, by 2009, Tay­lor was burned out. She had quit her fa­ther’s band and was work­ing on demo record­ings that were go­ing nowhere. Need­ing a change in scenery, she moved to Mem­phis with her boyfriend at the time, in­tend­ing to step back en­tirely from mu­sic. She got a job at a Ger­man­town cloth­ing store, started to model, and be­gan to study fash­ion de­sign, an in­ter­est that she devel­oped last year into start­ing her own com­pany, Moore­head Ap­parel.

But she couldn’t get away from mu­sic. A mem­ber of the Blues Foun­da­tion board of direc­tors, her cir­cle of friends was un­der­stand­ably dom­i­nated by mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing such lo­cal blues stal­warts as Vic­tor Wain­wright and, most in­flu­en­tially, Bill Gib­son.

“He lit­er­ally dragged me to ev­ery jam I could think of,” Tay­lor says. “I really want to say he’s the one re­spon­si­ble for me go­ing back to mu­sic be­cause he just wouldn’t let me not. It was be­cause of him that I met all those won­der­ful mu­si­cians on Beale Street and really got im­mersed back into the whole thing.”

Reded­i­cated to mu­sic, Tay­lor threw her­self into her craft, cut­ting Girls With Gui­tars and Blue al­most si­mul­ta­ne­ously in late 2010.

Tay­lor has a much heav­ier hand in her next record. Work­ing from her new home base out­side of Kansas City, Mo. — where she is set to wed road man­ager Chuck Haren later this month — she re­cently fin­ished fi­nal mixes for her sopho­more al­bum.

“I would say I’m not really like my fa­ther at all,” Tay­lor says. “I think the best thing is he showed me what mu­sic can do, and now I get to tell my story.”


Cassie Tay­lor, daugh­ter of blues le­gend Otis Tay­lor, lived in Mem­phis for a time and res­ur­rected her mu­si­cal ca­reer.

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