Taj Plays Robert Johnson
At a live concert in 1986 Taj Mahal performs delta blues legend Robert Johnson’s “Come On In My Kitchen.” Though the song has been covered by countless others Taj makes it his own through the application of his own instrumental treatment.
Throughout his career, Taj Mahal has performed his brand of blues for a predominantly white audience. This is disappointing for him at times, but he recognizes the general decline in interest for blues music among many African Americans today. He has drawn a parallel comparison between the blues and rap music; they both were initially forms of black music that have come to be assimilated into the mainstream of society.
When Taj moved to Santa Monica, California in 1964 he formed the “Rising Sons” with fellow blues musician Ry Cooder and Jessie Lee Kincaid and landed a record deal with Columbia Records soon after. The group was one of the first interracial bands of the period, which likely made them commercially unviable. An album was never released (though a single was) and the band soon broke up, though Legacy Records did release The Rising Sons Featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder in 1993 with material from that period. At the time Mahal was working with others, musicians like Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Muddy Waters. Mahal stayed with Columbia after The Rising Sons to begin his solo career, releasing the self-titled “Taj Mahal” in 1968, and “The Natch’l Blues” in 1969.