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Photos by Love Imagery, by Spotlight Central

Originally Published: 07/30/2022

Although the weather outside is moving 100 degrees, it’s comfortably chilly inside the historic Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, NJ, on the evening of Wednesday, July 20, 2022, as music lovers vie for the multi-Grammy-award winning recording artist, Looking forward to a concert by Taj. Palace.

With the given name of Henry St. Clair Fredericks, Jr., Mahal was born on May 17, 1942, in Harlem, NY. Inspired at an early age by Gandhi’s work – with a fascination for India and social thought. Tolerance – Henry Jr. eventually changed his name to the Taj Mahal.

Growing up in Springfield, MA, Mahal’s mother was a member of a gospel choir and her father was a jazz pianist, composer and arranger, often hosting musicians from the Caribbean and Africa in addition to the United States. Taj’s parents started him with classical piano lessons, but he soon expanded his musical range to include the study of the clarinet, trombone and harmonica. He also had a genuine passion for singing.

After his father died in an accident, his mother remarried, and Taj began playing his stepfather’s guitar in his early teens, when a guitarist from North Carolina moved next door to teach him Delta and Chicago blues. He became serious when he taught different styles of.

At age 16, Mahal began working on a local dairy farm and, at age 19, became a foreman on the farm; As a result, he thought of making a career in farming. Over the years, this ongoing passion led him to perform regularly at Farm Aid concerts.

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In the early 60s, he studied agriculture at UMass Amherst, where he formed his own band, The Elektras. After graduation, he moved west to Los Angeles and founded The Rising Sons, a six-piece group consisting of guitarist Rae Cooder. The band opened to many high-profile artists of the ’60s, including Otis Redding, The Temptations, and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.

Around the same time, Mahal also had the opportunity to work with various blues legends, most notably Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Sleepy John Estes.

This diversity of musical experience served as the basis for Mahal’s first three recordings: 1967’s Taj Mahalof 1968 the natural bluesand 1969 Giant step. These three seminal albums showed signs of an exploration of the music that would become the hallmark of Mahal in years to come.

In the ’70s, Mahal carved a unique musical niche with a string of recordings, including a Grammy-nominated soundtrack for the film, wild boar, In the ’80s, he involved himself in the music and culture of his new home in Hawaii, in addition to releasing three famous children’s albums. In the 90s, he released his Grammy-winning recording, seinor blues, And in 2018, he recorded his Grammy-winning blues album, Tajmo, Mahal has been nominated for ten Grammy Awards in total.

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Inside the beautiful Union County Performing Arts Center, the lights dim and announce, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Taj Mahal Quartet.” Taj Mahal and his group – Bill Rich on bass, Castor Smith on drums, and Bobby Ingano on guitar – dance to the recorded music as audience members clap, hoot, and holler.

Taking a seat amidst a collection of unique stringed instruments, Mahal welcomes the crowd and introduces his debut song, admitting, “It’s a tune you might not have known. It is the story of a judge, the judge’s wife, a maize wine, the ‘criminal’ and a girl named Nell. His sad and hoarse voice is low and with a laugh he cries out, “You know you’re doing time partner / ‘Cause you committed a crime,” on “Slow Drag”, a blues number that includes Mahal picking up on the banjo and Shown swinging.

The crowd cheers and Mahal & Company launches in “Bring It With You When You Come”, a number with an island vibe in which Mahal is seen smiling as he plays the guitar. In conclusion, Mahal revealed, “People – in 2026, that song will be 100 years old. The reason I love old music is because the stories don’t go away. As much as people change, the songs are still the same today.

Castle’s voice shouts over the band on “Done Changed My Way of Living” and the crowd cheers when they recognize the intro to “Fishin’ Blues”. Audience members happily join forces in singing on this country blues number on the chorus “I’m a goin’ fishin’/Yeah, I’m goin’ fishin’/ and My baby’s goin’ fishin'” with a twiggy crown Castle Guitar Solo.

The crowd whistles and applauds for Castle’s slow bluesy cover version of “Corina” from The Grateful Dead, and the palace rejoices over the driving blues number, “Queen Bee, where the audience sings along to her song’s appeal”. Rock Me to My Soul” refrain.

Audience members cheer, and Mahal replies, “Thanks! How are we feeling?” Before inquiring, “Anyone here knows how to jog?” Audience members clap as Castle claps hard and deliciously on 12/8 blues, “Betty and Dupree,” where Bobby Ingano plays an inspired electric guitar solo and the crowd responds with loud applause.

Following the rhythmic folk tune, “Lovin’ in My Baby’s Eye”, in which music lovers sing along and dance in the easy groove in the aisles, Mahal & Co perform a reggae-style arrangement of “Stagger Lee”, where the palace Shakes his head as he spins a musical thread on this classic fairytale song.

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On “Sailing in Walker’s Kay”, Mahal played a small part of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” on his hollow-bodied electric guitar, before clapping the crowd to “ride the beat” as they clapping. Hue clapped on Castor Smith’s solid drumming.

Following the reggae-inspired “When I Feel the Sea Beneath My Soul”, Mahal and his quartet perform a sad rendition of “CC Ryder”, where Bill Rich delivers a funky bass line and Mahal’s distorted electric guitar blends into the solo music. The wave of happiness brings lovers in the house who hang on to her every note.

Mahal said, “Thank you all very much!” To which an audience member shouts, “You’re lifting my spirit!” “We are fortunate to be the recipients of 100 years of recorded music thanks to the development of the microphone,” Mahal continues, before explaining, “That was the time America began to hear itself.”

After introducing his band members, Mahal introduces guitarist Bobby Ingano on “Twilight in Hawaii”. Gorgeous strains of Ingano’s Hawaiian steel guitars roam about the auditorium taking the audience on a musical journey. The musicians followed with a dreamy rendition of Santo and Johnny’s “Sleep Walk”, in which Ingano’s steel guitar is called Rich’s bass and Smith’s drums maintain the rhythm while Mahal drinks to the sounds of his guitar strumming. Is.

Mahal counts out, “1, 2, 3, 4,” and the band launches into “Blackjack Davy,” a catchy tune with a reggae feel to which Mahal plays Dobro. He and the band then follow up with the biggest surprise of the evening – a cover version of The Monkees’ “Take a Giant Step” where Mahal shouts, “Come with me, leave tomorrow behind / And take a giant step outside yourself.” Mind you,” to all members of the crowd who react with a standing ovation.

Mahal talks about the essence of his music when he says, “It’s about humanity,” explaining, “I’m not trying to tell you anything you don’t know, but sometimes You have to say it.”

Mahal recited the lyrics of his song “Everybody is Somebody” aloud, saying, “If a man is born in luxury, he is someone / If a person is born in poverty, he is nobody / Everyone There is / there is no one.” After the warning, “You will be asked to participate with your hands, your body, and your voice,” Mahal & Co. performs a rhythmic number with the crowd joining the crowd and the Mahal declaration. does, “Let me hear you! Come on, Jersey, fill up the room!”

Audience members sing with enthusiasm, wave their hands in the air, and dance to the song’s catchy groove before ending with cheers and a standing ovation. The applause continues as Mahal and his musicians take bows together, before they collectively dance to whistling and cheers.

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As audience members exit the UCPAC auditorium, we chat with several concertgoers who share their thoughts on the Taj Mahal’s performance tonight. Plainfield’s Rich says, “It was great to see Taj again! He did a great job as always. He’s just amazing, and his voice sounds incredible.” Paige from Elizabeth declared, “He’s so emotional! I loved his facial expressions and the way he moved his body toward the music when he played it. It seemed like he was really enjoying himself.” Taking it.” Evan of Woodbridge said, “I especially loved Hawaiian music—to me, that was great!”

Dorothy from Rahway argues, “It was an excellent concert – I loved it! His banjo playing was amazing, and I especially liked when he played old blues numbers.”

Dan of Rahaway confesses, “Before tonight, I was not familiar with the music of Taj Mahal and it was a really fun show. Now, I want to see more shows here at UCPAC.” Janine agrees with Rahway, “It’s such a beautiful venue; I love everything about it.”

Geoffrey from Ringwood commented, “I had a great time tonight! I loved the Hawaiian steel guitar pairing and especially loved the songs, ‘Corina’ and ‘Take a Giant Step,'” He had also brought his mother with him at night. This is his first concert in a long time. He’s always had a rock and roll side and, like me, he had a great time tonight. Geoffrey’s mother Carol from Ringwood said, “I loved the show! I read about the concert and I was curious about it. I love all kinds of music and I was surprised that I found the Taj Mahal and its band.” Liked how much,” before adding, “Plus, this theater is a jewel.”

Georgia of Jersey City admitted, “The last time I heard Taj Mahal was in college, and it sounded better than ever tonight,” before noting, “I also got all the energy the show brought to me. was in love with.” Finally, we chat with Linda of Westfield, who says, “What a great concert – I loved it!” Before I recall, “The last time I saw the Taj Mahal was in the 1970s, and I can assure you it is still as great as it was then!”

To learn more about the Taj Mahal, please visit For information on future concerts at UCPAC – including Dion Warwick on September 9, Josh Turner on October 20, Little River Band on October 29, Black Violin on November 10 and Mandy Patinkin on February 18, 2023 – please visit Click.

Photos by Love Imagery

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