And he brings fond memories of playing here
He named himself after the Taj Mahal but his career took off beneath another dome – the Black Dome in Cincinnati. ”Listen, the Black Dome was the first place I knew (my music) was taking off and reaching people,” bluesman Taj Mahal said…by phone while traveling through Sand City, Calif.
The short-lived Black Dome opened in February 1969 as a rock venue at Vine and Calhoun streets, just off the University of Cincinnati’s main campus.
When Taj Mahal was booked to play there, he’d released a couple of albums and had recently performed in the Rolling Stones’ concert film “Rock and Roll Circus” along with the Who, John Lennon and Eric Clapton.
But his career was still seeking traction.
“Then I was looking off the stage at the Black Dome and the place was filled,” he said. “They put more people in there than was allowed. The walls were sweating.”
[Taj] to this area [Covington's Madison Theater] Thursday [September 22]… Bandmates are drummer Kester Smith and bassist Bill Rich.
At 69, Taj now holds senior status in the blues world he’s influenced and helped to broaden for more than four decades.
“This is music of humanity, about part of humanity being inhumane to another part of humanity, and about humanity coming together,” he said.
The blues got into his blood early, despite that his parents specialized in different genres. Taj Mahal, born Henry St. Claire Fredericks, was raised in Springfield, Mass., by a jazz musician father of West Indies descent and a gospel-singing mother from South Carolina.
“Half my family is Southern and made the Southern migration north; half my family is Caribbean and made the migration from St. Kitts to New York City,” he said. “The lines were coming together for me as a child. At that time, the blues was in everything, in everybody’s voice.”
He’s brought eclectic influences into his music, including the Hawaiian sounds that led him to create the Hula Blues Band in the 1980s. (Asked which forms of music he hates, he replied: “I won’t say hate, I’ll just say I don’t spend my time with heavy metal.”)
He sees a bright future for the blues, in part because of its move from the dusty Delta roads to what used to be called the information highway. These days he’s doing blues promotional work at tajblues.com.
“The blues is in great shape at the moment and the Internet has a lot to do with spreading the message,” he said.