Taj Mahal - lead vocals, guitar, dobro, banjo, harmonica; Jesse Ed Davis III - guitar; Gary Gilmore - bass; Chuck "Brother" Blackwell - drums
This Fillmore West show was part of the tour on which Taj Mahal embarked to promote his ambitious 1968 records, the electric Giant Step and the acoustic De Ole Folks at Home, which were two distinctly different records packaged as a double album. The reason for this unique and revolutionary marketing ploy was because Taj Mahal is essentially two different and very distinctive performers rolled into one preeminent African-American blues entertainer.
His father was a Jamaican born jazz musician and his mother a history teacher, which contributes to his dual interest in world beat music that would come much later on, as well as his obsession with reviving the historical Negro spiritual blues songs from 18th American Southern plantations. Mahal himself was a college educated bluesman who had a degree in animal husbandry from the University of Massachusetts who felt equally comfortable in both traditional acoustic and modern electric blues-rock genres.
The aforementioned double album contained one complete record of electric-rock blues and one album of a completely solo Taj Mahal doing old time Negro blues songs on guitar, banjo, slide guitar/dobro, and something he called simply "jive." This concert features, on lead guitar, the amazing Jesse Ed Davis III (a full blooded Native American who would go on to have his own career); and reflects the same mix of a modern electric Taj and an acoustic, solo, traditional one.
Born Henry St. Clair Fredericks, he claimed the name Taj Mahal came to him in a dream. After leaving college, Mahal formed the Elektras with guitarist Ry Cooder, who would go on to have a successful blues career of his own. The Elektras made one unreleased album for Columbia Records in the mid 1960s and then disbanded. Mahal remained on the label for more than a decade as he continued to develop his solo career.
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