Melvin Taylor & The Slack Band 

The Rathskeller, 401 E. Michigan St.
Friday, April 18, 8 p.m., free, 21+

Chicago guitarist Melvin Taylor’s appeal cuts across several genres of guitar-based music: He’s got enough blues knowledge to satisfy purists, but the guitar-nut, jam-band crowd can also dig on Taylor’s fast fingers and foot pedalin’.

“I grew up listening to traditional blues,” Taylor said. “Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf. Once I got the hang of their music, I went into a different direction. I get some flack by some of the blues community, but this is what I do.”

Taylor can take a familiar phrase and twist it to match his own taste. His first two albums were filled with familiar songs (“Texas Flood,” “Born Under A Bad Sign,” “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” and “Tequila” among others), but don’t expect a note-for-note copy. Who else but Taylor could make a seven-minute jam out of “Merry Christmas Baby”?

“I have no boundaries,” Taylor explained. “I have to stretch. I have to have my own flavor. Expect a little pop, a little funk and a lot of blues. It’s going to be different. Music is the melting pot.”

Taylor’s got a new album on the way later this year, his first since 2002. “I’ll try out some of the new songs in Indy,” he said.

Taylor bounces back and forth between gigs in Chicago and overseas — “Overseas has been my friend for almost 30 years,” he explained. The warmer weather means that the summer blues festival season is around the corner. Taylor is ready.

“The music business is weird, man,” he said. “You could be working a lot one month and then the next month, nothing. So I’m glad to be playing anywhere, anytime.”

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