August 13th, Buena Vista, Colorado – On Saturday, August 13th, Otis Taylor will helped Lariat Owner and Manager Court Johnson celebrate one year of bringing great music, food, sprits and fun to Buena Vista. Taylor is a heavyweight in the blues game, usually playing hard-hitting, emotive, grungy blues tinged with the grassier sounds of the electric banjo. Taylor went with a more festive vibe for the occasion and featured collaborator and fiddle player Anne Harris, who virtually stole the show. Harris warmed up like a ninja and wound around the stage with yoga-like flexibility as she jammed slippery blues runs and struck powerful chords. They hit some of Otis’ cannon tunes. But the extended jams into the mountain music realm peppered with howling reprises of the traditional blues rant “Hey Joe,” a live staple, were perfect for this audience.
After the show, as the band hastily broke down for the Lariat house band, Anne stayed to chat and was showered in praise from women who enjoyed her powerful presence, and men who I’m sure just wanted to be near her. She told me how pleased she was with the crowd and what a joy it had been to visit Buena Vista.
Unfortunately, Lariat Owner Court Johnson’s son Jon Paul was held up at the airport and did not make it in to jam. It was Jon Paul who used to tour with Talyor and had instigated this celebration. Court was disappointed at this, but delighted with the crowd. It was a packed venue bringing folks from Salida, Leadville and as far as New York and New Jersey to see world-class music in what has become one of the valley’s main attractions. Our “Rope” is coming into its own.
For the uninitiated, Taylor is a front range based voice, who sings songs with social conciousness and grit, with pounding fingerstyle electric guitar and banjo. Having Taylor come and play in a small club in the mountains is quite a treat. Among many credits, are several blues albums and musician of the year awards for Downbeat magazine, Living Blues and Blues Music Magazine. This performance comes by way of Otis’ relationship with blues musician Jon Paul Johnson, Court Johnson’s son. The younger Johnson has serious credit in his own right, and toured with Taylor as a teenage prodigy. – Jamie Wolkenbreit