"Blues master Mahal plays from the heart" at Payomet

NORTH TRURO – Taj Mahal is a musician as open-hearted and open-minded as we wish the world to be. The blues master and his quartet, plus one gifted guest, played a rich gumbo of music to a full Payomet Monday evening crowd.

With heat lightning in the sky, and a tornado warning in the air, the audience was treated to a rollicking show of country blues, Chicago blues, Hawaiian, Calypso, West African and rhythm and blues.

Seated on a stool, his trademark straw hat on his head, Mahal, 77, proved a genial host. Juggling various guitars, as well as a ukulele and piano, the musician exhibited skills on each that were rather breathtaking. At times his guitar playing served as the band’s horn section, punctuating each line of a particular song.

A smiling pedal steel guitar player on Mahal’s right played gorgeously inventive, Hawaiian-flecked lines. Four songs in, a steel drum musician introduced as Emily thickened up the band’s already impressive sound with Caribbean rhythms. Mahal’s longtime sidekicks Bill Rich on bass and Kester Smith on drums were consistently rock-steady.

Opening with a languid instrumental – “a big musical kiss for you” – the band then launched into “Good Morning, Miss Brown” and “Done Changed My Way of Living.” A jaunty version of “Fishing Blues” had the good people up and dancing.



Taj Mahal at Payomet