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 Blues Jam Profiles
Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor
Keyboards and Bass
Are you local?

Not very (Crouch End).

Where are you from, originally?

Wigan - isn't it obvious?

What's your tipple?

Beer - see question 2.

What's your earliest memory?

How should I know? Ask someone who was there at the time.

What was the first record you ever bought with your own money?

"Time Out" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

...and do you still have it?

Yes.

Any hobbies/interests?

Bit difficult to say - I tend to over-do my hobbies and end up doing them for a living. I do quite a bit of voluntary work these days, mostly for Childline but also do very selfless and soul-destroying work teaching basic literacy to BBC management.

Do you remember the very first gig you went to? What was it like?

Ronnie Scott at Leigh Library. They seemed very exotic (I was 10) and Louis Stewart's Gibson 175 was like something from outer space.

Worst job you've ever had?

Working with illiterate BBC management.

What's your claim to fame (not necessarily musical)?

Winning the TV series "Genius" and being presented with the prize by Germaine Greer on air. The idea that won me the prize was that we should repeal the 1918 Representation Of The People Act and ban male participation in government for 61 years.

Why this idea, on a comedy show? Well, I'd already sent in loads of other ideas to the programme and put this one in as a kind of desperate attempt to get some response out of them. It turned out they'd read all of my ideas and asked me back for the second series with two of them. What they didn't tell me was why they had picked the "only women get to vote" one. It was because they had Germaine Greer lined up as the special guest. I didn't know this until I went into the studio, but if ever you see the finished programme, it appears as if I've chosen the subject specially for her, rather than the producer doing it.

As for the 61 years bit - that's an even longer story...

If you could invite 6 people (past, present or fictional) to dinner, who would you choose?
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Bill Bryson
  • Mozart
  • Richard Buckminster Fuller
  • Socrates
Been playing/performing long?

For about 40 years, with 20 years off in the middle.

Been in any bands?

No-one you've ever heard of - a jazz-rock band and a Blues Brothers tribute band at university, and a fairly busy covers band in my 20s in Manchester, plus a proper pop band - we never got a deal because Simply Red kept stealing our musicians (and songs). Did lots of folk gigs with my girlfriend in our late teens. She dumped me and became relatively famous with her own band and I am not jealous at all, really. No, really.

What first got you interested in the Blues?

Trying to get off with a woman who really liked Robben Ford.

What other types of music do you like to listen to/play?

Jazz, classical, country, folk.

Favourite Blues artists?

Muddy Waters, Amos Garrett, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robben Ford, Matt Schofield, Peter Green, Gary Moore, Robert Cray, John Slaughter, Bonnie Raitt, Bessie Smith.

Favourite artists (any other genre) ?

A fairly random selection:  Dave Brubeck, the Modern Jazz Quartet, John McLaughlin, George Benson, Larry Coryell, Bireli Lagrene, Steve Morse & the Dregs, Larry Carlton, Pentangle, Paul Simon, Shakatak, Stevie Wonder, Danny Gatton, Barefoot Jerry, Oscar Peterson, Robert Palmer, Julia Fordham, Johnny Smith, Jaco Pastorius, Derek Trucks, John Scofield, Albert Lee, Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Mark King...

Ever been lucky enough to meet or share a stage with one of your musical heroes?

Most musicians will do anything if you'll buy them a drink, so much can be achieved with alcohol and impudence. One or two mates are musical heroes anyway - Don Paterson, who used to stay in my house quite a lot, would be a musical hero if the daft bastard hadn't decided to stop playing the guitar. There are loads of musical heroes on the East London music scene but Bob Marks deserves a special mention for having got me playing properly in a band again before my dotage, as he has done for lots of other people.

Favourite instruments and/or equipment?

My Taylor 815C is just brilliant - I couldn't ask for a better acoustic guitar. Also my Kawai MP9500 is still the best electric piano I've played, though heavier than most of them. Acoustic pianos are a bit of a pain these days by comparison but I wouldn't say no to a Steinway model D if there's one looking for a home... and one day I'll have to rectify the idiotic decision to sell my Yamaha SG 2000. I've rececntly acquired a Clavia Nord Stage Compact and I have to admit it's worth the ludicrous amount of money. I haven't been this excited about a keyboard since I got my DX7 in about 1986.

If you had to sum up your relationship with the Blues using just one word, what would it be?

Infected (with).

Who would you pick (past or present) for your dream band?

Julia Fordham, but don't expect any gigs, or rehearsals, or really to see me ever again...

Failing that, I'd have Dennis Chambers on drums and Victor Wooten on bass, and after that I wouldn't mind who else was there. I would leave my job and in fact most things to play keyboards for Amos Garrett or Robben Ford.

Most embarrassing moment?

Commiserating with someone over the death of her father and being told that he was in fact her husband.

Proudest moment!

See "Claim to fame" above.

What do you most enjoy about the Blues Jam?

Like most people I guess, the combination of variety and quality. Where else in the world can you find so much of both? Plus it's such an encouraging place to hone the old art, thanks to the great host team.

If you could travel back in time to be present at one moment/event in musical history, what would it be?

The first performance of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time  (pretentious... moi?). Or maybe The Eleventh House playing at the Montreux Jazz festival in 1974.

Who would they cast to play you in the movie of your life?

Richard Wilson.

Marmite: - Yes or No?

Do you really have to ask? Such a shame the 5Kg packs were banned because of the terrorist threat.

If you were invited on "Desert Island Discs", which 8 records would you choose?
  1. Chopin's 24 preludes
  2. Messiaen - Quartet for the End of Time (see above)
  3. Dave Brubeck- St Louis Blues (last concert recording)
  4. Robben Ford & Russell Ferrante - The Cotton Creeper (live)
  5. John McLaughlin - Binky's Beam
  6. Jeff Healey - See The Light
  7. Barefoot Jerry - If There Were Only Time For Love
  8. Larry Coryell and the 11th House - Joyride (live version)
...and what would be your luxury item?

Italy.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Your family, your friends and your health are much more important than anything else.

Go on - tell us a secret!

My first amplifier was one I made myself when I was about 16 in an empty WEM 4x12 cabinet brought home from a junk shop on a wheelbarrow (to my mum’s eternal embarrassment). 50 watts of pure bipolar transistor power. It were reet lush, lad.

Plus, I really do like Shakatak.