Presented by the Central Music Festival Society, legendary singer/songwriter Chip Taylor is teaming up with acclaimed artist Carrie Rodriguez for a special show at the Elks Club next month. The gifted duo performs Sept. 15th at 8 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.
The two are joining for a reunion tour behind the 10th anniversary deluxe reissue of their Red Dog Tracks album.
Rodriguez, a singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas, melds fiddle playing, electrifying vocals and a fresh interpretation of new and classic songs with an ‘Ameri-Chicana’ attitude.
As for Taylor, he’s known for penning such massive hits such as Angel of the Morning, Wild Thing and Try (Just a Little Bit Harder). The collaboration was sparked back in 2001.
“I was playing a show in Austin – South by Southwest,” he explained during a recent chat. “Lucinda Williams’ boyfriend at the time – Richard Price – he was in town promoting an artist he was working with, and he was also working with Carrie. She came to my show, I met her and I was thinking at the time of adding another instrument to the band.
“I went to see her the next day, and I thought she was great. I asked her if she wanted to join me on the show a couple of days after that, and she said yes.” She ended up heading over to Holland with him for a series of shows as well. And that turned into a long-lasting collaboration.
“She started singing on some of the choruses, and I thought she sounded really, really nice. I had her do a duet in Holland for one of the shows, and she was very nervous,” he recalls with a laugh. “But the fans went crazy when they heard her sing. So I said that’s it – my next album is going to be you and me.”
Let’s Leave this Town was their first recording. As for the Red Dog Tracks CD, Taylor said it’s what people might call the duo’s classic album.
“When I started doing duets with Carrie, it was such an amazing new feeling – getting this effect of two voices hitting each other in a certain way. It was a very spontaneous way we did it, too – she’s a very schooled musician. But something happens when we sing together – I can’t explain it, really. I can’t even tell you who is singing harmony and who is singing lead,” he adds with a laugh. “The thing about the way we sing is that there is no mood of the song – the mood is created as we are singing it,” he said. “It’s a very magical thing.”
Meanwhile, Taylor’s success over the years has been staggering.
He was born James Wesley Voight and raised in Yonkers, New York.
According to his web site, he was, “Absorbed in music as a youth and keying into country and western via the 50,000 watt clear channel AM station WWVA out of West Virginia, Taylor was playing and singing in country bands by his teens and (as Wes Voight) became the only white artist signed to the New York R&B division of King Records, the label that made James Brown famous.”
His first chart single was his recording (as Chip Taylor) of Here I Am in 1962.
His songs soon caught the ear of RCA Records Nashville A&R head Chet Atkins, who found it hard to believe that their writer was based in New York City.
But word spread about his tremendous skills. Country artists that have since recorded Taylor songs include Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, George Strait, Anne Murray, Bobby Bare and Emmylou Harris.
Other top artists that have recorded Chip Taylor songs include Frank Sinatra, Fats Domino, Dean Martin, Janis Joplin, Ike & Tina Turner, Linda Ronstadt, The Pretenders and Bonnie Raitt.
“I’m vibe-oriented in the way I write songs,” he explains. “I don’t really think about it much when I write songs – they just come out of me; I get a certain feeling and I go with it. And when I’m playing with a musician, I also get a certain feeling that something is working. I felt that way right away when I met Carrie, when she came to the show.
“And when I saw her perform the next day at a record store, I thought yes, there is something that she is doing that I really like.”
He took a break from music during the 1980s to the mid-1990s as a professional gambler, and since his return to making music, Taylor has to date released almost a dozen albums.
His very latest projects include this year’s Little Brothers and another mini-album called I’ll Carry for You.
But taking things back to his childhood, he recalls the influence of his folks and of being exposed to musical experiences as a youngster as well.
“What changed my life was when I went to a Broadway play. I didn’t want to go, but (my parents) had a ticket and they forced me to go,” he recalls with a laugh. “I sat in the fourth row and listened to the orchestra play My Wild Irish Rose. When I heard them play, it was about the power of the orchestra and what it did to my body.
“I just wanted to keep on feeling that ‘chill’ in my body. I knew then I wanted this to be part of me forever.”
For ticket information, check out www.centralmusicfest.com.