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Cassie Taylor: Born Of The Blues

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CTfeatCassie Taylor: Born Of The Blues…

Is it possible to be born with grit in your DNA? In the case of bassist-singer Cassie Taylor, whose album Out Of My Mind drops today, the answer is decidedly yes. She’s the daughter of award-winning blues innovator Otis Taylor, and it seems she’s well on her way to carrying on the family tradition while making a mark of her own. The self-produced album captures Cassie’s earthy vocals and sharp songwriting; it’s a recording steeped in the blues tradition but delivered with a modern-day edge.

“The blues is the basis of all American music and of everything that I do,” says Cassie, who wrote every song on the new album. “It’s a tradition, passed down from generation to generation. Some people say I’m not blues enough, but I’m a 26-year-old woman with very light skin living in the 21st century. Had Muddy Waters grown up when I did perhaps his music would sound a lot like mine.”CT04

To be clear, Cassie is not your stereotypical 26-year old trying to knock down doors and make it as a newcomer in the music biz. She’s already a road-tested veteran, having spent a decade playing bass on stage and in the studio with her famous father, a man who Guitar Player Magazine described as “arguably the most relevant blues artist of our time”. In 2011 Cassie released her debut album “Blue”, and soon after went to work on the just-released follow up. With support from her husband, who sold his car to help finance the recording, Cassie produced, arranged, played bass and keyboards, and finally completed the album. It wasn’t long before this multi-talented artist with model looks (not  figuratively; she’s also worked as a model in magazine spreads and at fashion shows) landed a deal with Yellow Dog Records. The younger Taylor may title herself “Out Of My Mind”, but chances are she will be anything but out of the minds of her fans with the new album, and for years to come.

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You were barely into your teens before jumping into a solid decade of work, both live and studio, with your dad. Looking back now, what kind of experience was that for you? What were the positives, what were the negatives?

To be honest, being in a band with your dad when you’re 16 is just about the lamest thing possible, but it was truly the most influential time in my life. When I was in the third grade, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and my parents always knew I wasn’t going to excel in academics. Touring with my dad gave me an opportunity to be successful at something outside of school. Playing music gave me confidence and also showed me the world.

What are the lessons you learned as a young musician on the road?

I learned how to interact with adults and listen and learn from their wisdom. I’ll never forget being backstage at the Blues Music Awards when I was 15 and siting at a table with Ruth Brown, Odetta and Maria Muldaur. I didn’t really know how important it was at the time that I was sitting at a table of legends; I just enjoyed interacting with them on a professional level and listening to their stories.

I also learned how to pack light and go without doing laundry for long periods of time.

What about the bass, as an instrument, captured your imagination?

I didn’t find the bass, the bass found me. It was more of a need to fill in for my father’s bass player, Kenny Passarelli, than anything else.

You’ve said that your first album, Blue, was how that particular producer saw you, but your new album, Out Of My Mind, is your own vision of how you see yourself now. Can you put into words how you see yourself now?cassie-taylor-1

I am a much happier person now and I feel like my first album was filled with young adult angst. Now that I am married and in much more stable circumstances, I feel like it’s reflected in my writing. There is a common thought in the songwriter world that in order to write good songs, you have to be miserable. For me, I am not about to start drama for inspiration’s sake, so I am learning how to listen more and find inspiration outside of my own personal relationships. There are more stories to be told than there are people on this earth, and I am having a great time uncovering them.

Tell us a little about who’s playing on the album with you.

The core of the album is comprised of myself, Steve Mignano on guitar, and Larry Thompson on drums. The additional musicians are Steve Vidaic on organ, Owen Tharp on bowed bass, Jon Gray on trumpet and Todd Edmunds on tuba. The hardest part of self-producing was trying to suppress my impulses to over-produce. Creating space is one of the most difficult things to do. It’s easy to put a million tracks on every song, but I wanted to stay true to the power trio sound that I tour with.

Your husband plays a big role in your career, and helped finance this album. What does that support feel like, and does he have musical input as well?

He believes in me more than I do. I met him at a bar and he didn’t know I was a musician on tour — he just thought I was hot. I dated a lot of guys in the industry and I felt sometimes they were more interested in who my dad was than being in a relationship with me. He supports my music career because he loves me and wants to see me succeed in my passion — not because he wants to play music or have creative input. I think it’s rare to find that kind of support these days, let alone in the music industry. He’s a hottie and I am a lucky gal.

CT02How would you describe the new album to someone who hasn’t heard it?

It showcases the influence that Blues has had on every American genre of music. Whether it’s pop, rock, r&b or industrial metal, it’s all there and it’s all based in the blues.

When writing, do you sometimes feel like you’re baring too much of yourself to the public, or is that the point?

When you become a public figure you lose a sense of privacy. There are great stories to be told in my life and I want to share them with others. My favorite thing about music is how it brings people together and how they can relate to the music. Life can be really lonely and when someone walks up to me after a show and tells me how much they understand the lyrics to a song I wrote, it’s an amazing connection.

 

Do you have a general routine for how you go about writing a song?

The only thing that’s routine is scrambling to find a pen and paper to write the ideas down. They come in spurts of creativity and I have to try and capture them before they are gone.

Which tunes on the new album are the most fun to play live?

“Again” and “New Orleans” are my favorites, because I like the songs with the biggest dynamics.

Who are the bassists that have shaped you as a player?

Kenny Passarelli was my father’s first bass player and I remember watching him play as a child before I had to fill his shoes in 2003. He was never fancy or overplayed — just kept a deep pocket and played to support the song.

What basses do you play, and what equipment do you use?CT03

I chose my gear based on its durability. For me it’s about road-worthy gear that isn’t going to break if you ship it. I have two Fender Mexican P-basses. My fave out of the two is the one that I put EMG pickups in. I’m a big bottom girl — I like to roll off the top end on the amp, but having an active pick up gives me the attack of the high end without the shrillness of higher frequencies.

Mono Case: I was first introduced to these guys at NAMM back in 2007 when they were just starting out. I love their bass gig bag and have had it since 2008. I am really hard on things and their bag travels well. Souldier Strap: I’m big into vintage clothing so their re-purposed vintage fabric straps fit perfectly with my personal style.

Name three things that really irritate you.

Bossy sound guys. Gyms. Flatulence.

Name three things that make life worth living.

Coffee. Bacon. Sex.

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(Photo credits, top to bottom: John Dickey, Sam Frickleton, Ryan Nicholson, Darren Boucher, Sam Frickleton. Photos provided by Shore Fire Media.)

 

Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online:

www.ciara-moser.com 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Travis Book

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Interview With Bassist Travis Book

Interview With Bassist Travis Book…

Bluegrass music has had a very solid following over many years and I am always happy to hear from one of the pioneers in that genre.

Travis Book plays bass for the Grammy award-winning band “The Infamous Stringdusters” and has recently released his first solo album “Love and Other Strange Emotions”. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Travis also hosts a podcast, Plays a Jerry Garcia music show with Guitarist Andy Falco, and is constantly gigging locally in his neck of the woods.

Photo, Seyl Park

Visit Online:

www.thetravisbook.com
www.thestringdusters.com
FB @ TheTravisBook
IG @ travisbook

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Bass Videos

Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Malcolm-Jamal Warner…

I am pretty sure that everyone is aware of Malcom-Jamal Warner’s work as an actor. What may be less known is his work as a director, poet, musician, and most importantly for us, a bass player. With four albums of his own, Grammy nominations and wins, as well as a sizable amount of ongoing live gigs, Malcolm is dedicating a serious amount of his attention to his music.

Join me as we hear about Malcom’s musical journey, projects, his gear choices, and plans for the future.

Here is Malcom-Jamal Warner!

Photos: Dwain Govan @dwain_go / Conrad Montgomery Mckethan @eyeconimages

Visit Online:

malcolmjamalwarner.com
IG @malcolmjamalwar
Twitter @malcolmjamalwar 
Facebook: Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Bass Videos

Interview With The Labex Funk Project

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Interview With The Labex Funk Project

Interview With The Labex Funk Project…

Time really flies when you are having fun! Just over a decade ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michel “Labex” Labaki for our July 2013 cover.

At that time, much of our conversation concerned his personal approach to bass playing and his techniques. Fast forward to now and I am pleased to discover Michel’s new endeavor, the Labex Funk Project.

Join me as we meet the band:
Kynion Lanier on vocals
Pablo Batista on percussion
Jake Brightman on Guitar
Daniel Gonzalez on Drums
And Michel “Labex”Labaki on bass

As a bonus, we have the band’s producer Phillippe Dib in on this video chat as well.

Here is the Labex Funk Project!

Visit online:

michellabaki.com
www.facebook.com/MichelLabexLabaki/
www.instagram.com/michellabaki
www.youtube.com/c/MichelLabaki
FB @LabexFunkProject
IG @ Labex Funk Project

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

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Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

Bassist Tony Newton…

I am always learning new details about Bass history when I get the opportunity to talk with seasoned players like Tony Newton. Tony, a Detroit native, came up in the golden years of Motown and laid down the low end for countless performers and studio sessions; he has performed on over 25 gold and platinum hit recordings.

As time went by, and the whole Detroit scene dwindled, Tony relocated to LA where he worked a busy schedule, even going back to school to learn about music theory and composition.

Over the years he performed on many historic hit recordings and tours with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson(music Director), the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, The Funk Brothers and more, as well as working with veteran rock guitarist, Gary Moore in the British group G-Force.

Presently, Tony is super busy and on the verge of releasing a movie titled “Mars Quest” among his numerous other projects.

Join me as we get to enjoy all the history and knowledge that Tony has to share along with the details about his new Signature bass from BITE Guitars named “The  Punchtown Bass”.

Here is Tony Newton…

Photos: Mary K. Brand, Mitch Snyder, Haneefa Karrim, Hans Adamsen

Visit Online:

tonynewtonmusic.com/
FB @ TonyNewtonMusic Artist
YTB @ antoniotonynewtonmusic

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