guitar player

Way back in 1965, Taj Mahal left his Massachusetts home and headed to California in search of a 17-year-old blues phenom named Ry Cooder. The rest, as Mahal puts it, is “our-story.”

Photo by Abby Ross

Almost six decades after forming the short-lived Rising Sons, the two legends reconvene to pay tribute to the classic blues duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on the warm and rootsy Get on Board.

Deep into Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder’s Get on Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, percussionist Joachim Cooder lays out, letting the two elder musicians can take a pass through “Pawn Shop Blues.” To start, they loosely play around with the song’s intro on their acoustic guitars. “Yeah, nice,” remarks Mahal off-handedly in his distinctive rasp—present since he was a young man but, at 79, he’s aged into it—and Cooder lightly chuckles. They hit the turnaround and settle into a slow, loping tempo. It’s a casual and informal affair—some notes buzz, and it sounds like one of them is stomping his foot intermittently. Except for Cooder’s slide choruses, neither guitar plays a rhythm or lead role. They simply converse.

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“Theory Can Be a Limitation—I Like to Look at All of the Possibilities” Crypta's Tainá Bergamaschi

Tainá Bergamaschi from Brazilian/Dutch death-metal outfit Crypta on unrestricted songwriting and her hero Buckethead.

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John Bohlinger shows off his glove game at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium before his musical director gig at the NHL Stadium Series 2022 on February 26.

At a recent outdoor NHL Stadium Series performance, it was so cold that my hands went numb. So, I had to improvise.

Last month, I wrapped the NHL Stadium Series at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium in front of 68,619 screaming fans and an army of TV production, crew, etc. The network chose to lean into Nashville’s Music City theme by including performances by 12 of the city’s biggest names in music. About a month ago, the director, Michael Dempsey, whom I worked with on several award shows, hired me as the music director. Here’s how it went.

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