Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 5, 2013

World Blues with Taj Mahal

Mahaiwe, Great Barrington, MA
November 3, 2013
by Eric Sutter

A beacoup of blues entertained a lively audience at the Mahaiwe. Fredericks Brown opened with a contemporary soul-blues set. Vocalist Deva Mahal, the daughter of Taj Mahal, proved to be a powerful blues tinged soul singer with "Can't Pretend." Their musical blend included Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me." Keyboardist Stephanie Brown added a nice touch as Mahal performed the passionate soul hand-clapper "Everybody Deserves To Be Free." Watch for their rise!

International artist Vusi Mahlasela from South Africa stressed the need for Ubuntu (kindness) in "A Prayer For Our Time." During "Say Africa," he urged the audience to sing along as he danced for the joy of his homeland. Next, was a dedication of "My Song Of Love" to the women of South Africa, sounding especially beautiful through its many tones and pitches, in both Zula and English languages. 
Taj Mahal Trio performed a blues happy set. Mahal spoke of the world gone crazy with everyday "Uh Oh" news. The trio lit up with "I Used To Be Down, But I Ain't Down Anymore." The master multi-instrumentalist played many guitars. "Fishin' Blues" sounded clean on acoustic guitar. Mahal's bluesy rasp worked to great effect on his classic songs.

Mahal carries the torch for roots music. On ukelele, the star played the traditional jug band song "Wild About My Lovin'" that  danced friskily. His banjo jubilee was pure magic. Mahlasela joined in for a world-music acoustic guitar duet "Zanzibar" with a haunted vocal blend. Mahal swept away the audience with the low rumble of his resonator guitar as he dueted sweetly with his daughter on "Lovin' In My Baby's Eyes." Guest keyboardist John Savitt became the swingin' part of the encore, "Ain't Gwine Whistle Dixie No More". The avalanche of sound prompted an audience soul-clap. In the aftermath, every player joined in the bustin' loose thrill of "Everybody Is Somebody."