There’s nothing like being in a room packed full of people and knowing that every one of them is happy. That was the atmosphere at the Door Community Auditorium on Saturday before blues legend Taj Mahal took the stage. The anticipation was tangible.
The DCA’s 2013 summer lineup is great, and when I first read it back in April I immediately started strategizing and clearing my schedule so I could see my favorite acts. Taj Mahal was number one. How could I pass up seeing such a seasoned performer playing some of my favorite tunes right in Fish Creek?
Taj Mahal has won two Grammy awards, written scores for plays, performed around the world and carved out his place as a blues legend. He’s been performing for over 50 years, and roughly 23 years ago became a big part of my musical upbringing. Mule Bone was permanently on the rotation of CDs we played on the way home from school, and receiving my dad’s copy of The Essential Taj Mahal was a pretty big father/daughter moment.
Back to the DCA. When we were asked to “please give a Door County welcome to Taj Mahal,” the crowd erupted as Taj walked on stage with drummer Kester Smith and bassist Bill Rich. He opened the show with Corrina, and worked his way through classics like Fishin’ Blues, Satisfied ‘n Tickled Too, and Queen Bee.
There was a lot of grinning, chair dancing, toe tapping, shouts and applause, and not just from me. It was pretty clear Door County was loving Taj Mahal.
It wasn’t just the music that made the night so great. Taj and the band – he referred to them as the Taj Mahal Trio – are seasoned performers and know how to put on a good show. They played new and classic songs expertly, but changed up the rhythms just enough to keep them new and interesting for the blues buffs in the audience. I still can’t believe how easily Taj Mahal retuned his guitars between songs
For musicians who have been playing for more than 50 years, Taj, Smith and Rich were still enthusiastic. They love to play – that much was obvious – and love to play together. That was apparent with the joking that went on between songs and the dancing they did getting on and off stage.
Taj Mahal earned two standing ovations, and I think the crowd would have happily stayed until dawn if the band had kept playing.
The experience after the show was pretty similar to the one before the show – a room full of people, and all of them happy. But on the way out, we were all still tapping our toes.