bcs stage | 6:30 p.m.

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Taj Mahal is a larger-than-life figure in the world of blues, but what exactly would you expect from someone who named himself after a building?


There is much more behind Taj than nearly six decades in the music business.


His given name is Henry St. Claire Fredericks Jr. but he adopted the name Taj Mahal as a teenager after learning of India’s Mahatma Gandhi and his use of tolerance and civil disobedience for social change.

And, in his very own way, that’s what Taj has been employing in his exploration of blues and how it fits into the world.  He doesn’t just play the blues, but he has studied its roots, evaluated its impact on other cultures, and dissected how it can be used as a tool of social change.

 Now, at age 76, his blues influence infiltrates other countries and extend as far as the reach of seminal bluesmen Muddy Waters and  B.B. King.

 The native of Springfield, Mass., he had a father who was a jazz pianist and composer from the Caribbean and a mother who was a school teacher and gospel singer from South Carolina, Taj grew up with West Indian and African ancestry.


He used that a jumping off point and by 1964 had moved to Los Angeles to form a blues band with like-minded spirits Ry Cooder and Jesse Ed Davis.  That band, The Rising Sons, may not have been so commercially acceptable but it opened up a world of possibilities to many young musicians who for the first time could identify blues at the root of their rock ‘n’ roll.

 Since then he has produced dozens of albums, collaborated with musicians from around to world to express their own version.

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