Because of his vast library of tunes, fans wonder in anticipation of what gem they might hear next. Fishing Blues, Stagger Lee and Good Morning Miss Brown were just a few of the classics Taj served up to a sold out audience at the historic Pabst Theatre. His version of Annie Mae was certainly a treat, a great display of his artistry.
Two things that enhance a Taj Mahal show are how much he enjoys himself strutting to the music and bringing people to their feet, and his skills at storytelling. He demonstrated plenty of both. An example of the latter was a story about his parents meeting at the famous Savoy Ballroom. Bill Rich and Kester Smith joined Taj on bass and drums, respectively.
Jimmie Dale Gilmore, opening for the blues master, also had a style that was uniquely his own. At times, the styles’ openness and heart-warming character brought to mind Willie Nelson. More often than not his music had that quality that makes it sound familiar to listeners who have never heard it before. Keeping the audience entertained throughout his entire set, he relied primarily on originals. One exception was the provocative My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own by Butch Hancock.
Gilmore shared many stories. He talked about playing a club in Austin that was smaller than the Pabst stage. It was here Lyle Lovett and Lucinda Williams opened for him. He also talked about moving to Los Angeles as a young, impressionable nineteen year-old and going to see Taj Mahal perform a couple times a month. He is currently touring in a duo format, featuring himself and Rob Gjersoe, another great guitarist. At one time Rob was a member of Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans. As an added treat, Paul was invited to the stage for one number. John gave him his guitar and brought out his harmonica, energizing the crowd.