Taj Mahal is truly an eclectic musician. He first gained notice in the mid-1960s as a member of The Rising Sons (along with Ry Cooder), part of the young blues movement. His self-titled solo debut was released by Columbia in 1967. Early on, Mahal incorporated not only the acoustic guitar, but also banjo and even the tuba in his recordings (check out his 1971 live album The Real Deal).
Mahal has recorded everything blues with touches of Africa (Kulanjan, with Toumani Diabate), the Caribbean, West India and Hawaii. He’s recorded albums for children (including Follow The Drinking Gourd and Shake Sugaree) and even appeared in the 1972 film Sounder (still waiting for this soundtrack to arrive in CD). Mahal collaborated with Langston Hughes (who wrote the lyrics) for the music to the play Mule Bone. His latest album, Hanapepe Dream (Tone-Cool) was recorded with his Hula Blues Band. His current touring band is The Phantom Blues Band; check them out on Taj’s 2000 live album Shoutin’ In Key.