Taj Mahal Trio

Venue: Meymandi Concert Hall

Date/Time: Saturday, February 18, 2012 | 8:00pm

General Public: $25, $30, $35
Members: $20, $25, $30

Call 919-664-8302 now and save processing fees or use the button to order tickets online!
Taj Mahal Trio
Photo by: Jay Blakesberg

For more than 40 years, Taj Mahal has been playing and exploring music from around the world. The composer, multi-instrumentalist, and two-time Grammy winner is one of the most prominent and influential figures in late 20th century blues and roots music. With 50 albums to his credit, Taj’s repertoire spans nearly a generation of music history, and his musical range has included American blues and music representing virtually every corner of the world – west Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the Hawaiian islands, and so much more. What ties it all together is his insatiable interest in musical discovery. In 2009, Taj was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis, Tennessee. The Taj Mahal Trio is: Taj on guitar, piano and banjo; Bill Rich on bass; Kester Smith on drums. Rolling Stone Magazine wrote of Taj Mahal: “One of the enduring figures in American blues.”

"With Taj, it's not just the music - although that's of course the big thing. It's the whole social history and musicology and awareness that comes with listening to his music," said Jay Sieleman, executive director of the Blues Foundation (as quoted in MassLive.com).

Taj discovered his stepfather's guitar and became serious about it in his early teens, when a guitarist from North Carolina moved in next door and taught him the various styles of Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, and other titans of Delta and Chicago blues. Prior to the guitar, Taj had learned piano, clarinet, trombone, and harmonica, and he loved to sing.

Musicians from the Caribbean, Africa and all over the U.S. frequently visited his family’s home, and Taj became increasingly fascinated with the origins of all the different forms of music he was hearing, what path they took to reach their current form, and how they influenced each other along the way. He threw himself into the study of older forms of African-American music.

Born Henry St. Claire Fredericks in Harlem in 1942, Taj grew up in Springfield and studied agriculture at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the early 1960s. Inspired by a dream, he adopted the musical alias Taj Mahal and formed the popular band the Elektras. After graduating, he headed west to Los Angeles, where he formed the Rising Sons, a six-piece outfit that included guitarist Ry Cooder. The band was one of the first interracial groups of the time, and they opened for numerous high-profile touring artists of the '60s, including Otis Redding, the Temptations, and others. Around this same time, Taj also mingled with various blues legends, including Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Lightnin' Hopkins and Sleepy John Estes. Rising Sons recorded one album for Columbia, and a couple years later Taj worked with Cooder and four other musicians (Jessie "Ed" Davis-lead guitar, piano; Bill Boatman-rhythm guitar; James Thomas-bass; Chuck Blackwell-drums) to record his own debut album, Taj Mahal, for Columbia.


Taj lived in Hawaii in the 1980s and recorded two projects with Hula Blues: Sacred Island (1998), a blend of Hawaiian music and blues, and Hanapepe Dream (2003). He worked with Indian classical musicians for 1995’s Mumtaz Mahal, and in 1999 he and Malian kora player Toumani Diabate collaborated to create Kulanjan. His two Grammys were for 1997’s Senor Blues and 2000’s Shoutin’ in Key. His most recent album, Maestro: Celebrating 40 Years, is a 12-track collection that includes original material, chestnuts borrowed from classic sources, and songs written by a cadre of highly talented guest artists.

PineCone is honored to present the Taj Mahal Trio to close out the 2011-2012 Down Home Concert series. Make plans now to hear this legendary blues musician right here in Raleigh!

Special thanks to all of our sponsors:

Duke Energy makes life better for millions of people every day by providing electric and gas services in a sustainable way – affordable, reliable and clean. Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States, supplying and delivering energy to approximately 7.2 million U.S. customers. They have approximately 57,700 megawatts of electric generating capacity in the Carolinas, the Midwest and Florida – and natural gas distribution services in Ohio and Kentucky. Their commercial and international businesses own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a portfolio of renewable energy assets. Learn more about Duke Energy


The Irregardless Café feeds all of the Down Home Series artists! Please patronize them and tell them "thank you" for supporting live music in the Triangle. The award-winning Irregardless Café has been nourishing our community with delicious meals, attentive service and music from talented entertainers from around the Triangle since 1975. The Café also offers live entertainment nightly. Talented, local musicians perform the fiddle, ballads, folk, blues, jazz/swing and folk, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday nights are traditional music nights at the Café! Learn more about the Irregardless Café


Bit Wranglers is a locally owned, Raleigh-based graphic design company that also does website design and development; illustration work (2-dimensional diagrams, photo illustration, Flash animation artwork); interactive media (instructional artwork); print brochures, postcards, and other collateral; photography; and more! Learn more and see samples of Bit Wranglers' work


Our State: Down Home in North Carolina celebrates the people and places that make this state great. From the mountains to the coast, we feature North Carolina travel, history, folklore and beautiful scenic photography. Since 1933, Our State has shared stories about North Carolina with readers both in state and around the world. Our readers are passionate about North Carolina and treasure the magazine as a connection to all the great things about the state. Our State is a monthly publication. Visit the Our State Magazine website to learn more


Whole Foods Market is the world’s leader in natural and organic foods, with more than 270 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. They seek out the finest natural and organic foods available, maintain the strictest quality standards in the industry, and have an unshakeable commitment to sustainable agriculture. Visit the Whole Foods website


Learn about other upcoming concerts and events at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts!

More Info

Social Media Links

Video Sample


Local Resources