Larry Taylor’s latest album is a testament to his family’s musical legacy, a legacy rooted on Chicago’s West Side. His father Eddie Taylor is a pioneer of the Chicago blues, along with his mother, blues singer-songwriter Vera Taylor. In honor of Eddie Taylor’s 100th birthday, Larry Taylor recorded an album featuring his siblings and son, the Taylor Band.
“People will be able to appreciate the talent and the spirit not only in our family, but in our community,” Larry Taylor said in a press release. For years, Taylor has pushed for the West Side blues to be celebrated, enjoyed and remembered by the community. He has performed at numerous community concerts in West Side parks and performed at the 2023 Chicago Blues Festival last June 9.
In 2020, he received an Esteemed Artist Award from the Chicago Department of Culture and Special Events for his musical legacy and work to revive the Chicago blues.
Taylor unveiled the new album in a heartfelt and energetic performance on June 18, on the Juneteenth weekend and during Black Music Month.
At FitzGerald’s, the historic musical venue at 6615 Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn, Taylor and his family took the stage to present their musical interpretation of songs inspired by Chicago blues and recorded on the West Side.
The album includes 13 songs featuring Larry Taylor and his siblings, Brenda Taylor, Demetria Taylor and now deceased Eddie Taylor Jr. Five of the songs were written or adapted by Eddie Taylor Sr., one was written by Vera Taylor and four by Larry Taylor. Two postwar blues classic songs were adapted by Larry Taylor’s sisters — Brenda and Demetria — and Eddie Taylor Jr. played on nine tracks recorded before he passed away in 2019. The album was produced by Nola-Blue Records, with a CD and a special vinyl edition to come.
Larry’s son, Lil’ Jet, raps on an emotionally compelling adaptation of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Guests include the late Killer Ray Allison on guitar and Matthew Skoller on harmonica.
The album’s creation is also an example of Larry Taylor’s role as today’s family patriarch. He is the eldest son of his mother Vera Taylor, who met Eddie Taylor in Douglass Park in 1957. She wrote many of Eddy Taylor’s songs and was responsible for raising a family of eight children, seven of whom became singers and musicians themselves. Her husband, Eddie Taylor Sr. became one of the Chicago blues pioneers after he taught himself to play guitar. He shared his skills with many, including childhood friend Jimmy Reed and collaborated with artists such as Snooky Pryor, John Lee Hooker, Floyd Jones, and Elmore James.
Disclaimer: Larry Taylor is the partner of former Austin Weekly News contributing reporter and blogger Bonni McKeown.