June 13, 2024


Website about Jazz and Blues

Interview with Dudley Taft: The groove needs to be there! Those are felt by the body not the mind

Interview with Blues – Rock guitarist Dudley Taft. An interview by email in writing.

Dear readers, get to know more about our US/EU Jazz – Blues Festivals and the activities of our US/EU Jazz – Blues Association in the capitals of Europe, we will soon publish this program for 2024, enjoy in the July – August – Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Sofia, new address this year, also in Budapest and Liverpool.

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Dudley Taft: – I grew up in the Midwest for the most part (Cincinnati, Indianapolis), with a year and a half in Houston, Texas. I listened to 70’s radio and was infected by British invasion bands like Deep Purple (Machine Head is one of my desert island albums), Thin Lizzy, Cream, Hendrix, Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd mixed up with southern bands like the Allman Bros and Lynyrd Skynyrd. From age 13 I just wanted to play lead guitar, like one of the guitarists in these bands.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

I went to boarding school in Connecticut at age 15, and played with Trey Anastasio in the school rock band, which became “Space Antelope” my junior year. We played Grateful Dead and Fleetwood Mac, did a lot of improvising, and learned our way around the neck.

I thought going to college would be a good idea, and in 1983, LA looked like the best place. But by the time college was over, it was 1988- right before the end of big hair rock. The scene was more about image than great songs in my opinion, so I visited Seattle to check it out and knew that was the place for me. I tried to be that ‘metal guy’, but my heart wasn’t in it. I could play bluesy in the rock bands in Seattle. I was lucky enough to join a successful band (Sweet Water) right away and make some great music. It wasn’t really ‘grunge’, but more like that Midwestern rock I grew up with. I did a lot of writing in Sweet Water, none of it blues, but I played bluesy solos and riffs.

After 17 years in rock bands, I needed a break and decided that doing some sort of ZZ Top tribute show would be really fun for me to do. While learning those songs I realized how much blues were the foundation of the southern and British rock I grew up on. Then I discovered Freddie King, and that changed my life.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

I have had my “own sound” since I started playing guitar at age 13. I wrote my first song within 6 months of starting to play the guitar, and purposely tried to play my own way, whether that be playing solos or writing melodies and chord progressions. I avoid the overused guitar licks and chord progressions because I really want to find things that are “fresh” to the listener’s ear. When people tell me that they can hear my guitar playing and know it’s me – even if they have not heard that song before – I know that I have developed my own style, and that is one of life’s great pleasures!

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

I do not play scales (anymore), but I do play the guitar every day, especially working on writing new material and experimenting with rhythms and riffs and chord progressions. I can still hear things in my head that I cannot quite execute on the guitar, so I work on learning how to do so. I tend to toil over the longer solos, crafting them to be continually interesting in terms of development and freshness of melody. Then I usually memorize the solo, or most of it, so I have it in my pocket if I need it live. This helps me not repeat licks – or my soloing vocabulary – across the set list at a show.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

I have become more comfortable singing for sure. I have embraced the lead guitar/lead singer role! I think that I stay true to my nascent songwriting tendencies. So I don’t think I have changed that much over the years!

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

There are a great many songs that appeal to the soul and not really to the intellect – read the lyrics to some of the hit songs of the past; they’re not very deep! But then there are some lyrics and music that tickle the hippocampus, think prog rock etc… Maybe some Dylan or Cohen lyrics are clever… But play a few shows and you realize the beat needs to be there! The groove needs to be there! Those are felt by the body not the mind. There should be songs that appeal to both in my opinion – and the right combo makes for a great album.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

Hah! I always do my best to entertain – that means sharing and provoking emotion in the audience, but the real goal is to have fun. The best shows take the listeners through many emotions – reflection, sadness, joy, humor…

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

You’ve got me! There are a lot of great Jazz songs, but I don’t listen much to that. Doesn’t float my boat…

JBN: – Ha, ha, ha …

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

Oh, getting deep here are we? Hmm. Music is a way of expressing and experiencing the myriad of emotions that life gives us, so it really is a reflection and a way of combining those feelings. Without feelings and emotions, I doubt people would claim we all have a spirit. And life? Life is not a fancy car or leather couch, it’s the experiences we have with our friends and family and sometimes by ourselves.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

Have the streaming companies actually pay the artists a fair amount for the music.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

I am in a writing phase now – so I am not listening to anything but the songs I am trying to develop! That and some podcasts!

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

Oh, I would go to England in the early 1970’s – just for the music scene!!


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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

Dudley Taft Jr. Is Not Your Great-Great-Grandfather's Taft - Cincinnati  Magazine

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