MUSIC BOX: Double-bill of legends

By on September 8, 2015

John Hiatt & Taj Mahal team up with respective trios

Taj Mahal (left), and John Hiatt team up to deliver a heady evening of music Tuesday at Center for the Arts.

Taj Mahal (left), and John Hiatt team up to deliver a heady evening of music Tuesday at Center for the Arts.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – The onslaught of free outdoor music has dried up. The good news is that mind-blowing indoor show offerings are plentiful this week, including visits from John Hiatt and Taj Mahal, Tony Furtado Band and Black Uhuru. (And Cheap Trick is playing the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot this Friday.)

The combination of Hiatt and Taj hitting the road together is one of legendary status. Last year, 2014, was a big one for both artists. Hiatt released “Terms of My Surrender,” the title track of which was nominated for Song of the Year at this month’s Americana Music Association Honors & Awards, while Taj earned a Lifetime Achievement for Performance Award from the Association at last year’s ceremony, calling it “one of the most powerful and wonderful things that could ever happen in my life.”

Hiatt is known as a satirical storyteller and master lyricist. Even Bob Dylan recorded one of his songs. Others that have tapped his songs for albums include Bonnie Raitt (a big hit with “Thing Called Love”), Delbert McClinton, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Linda Ronstadt and Don Henley. It comes as a surprise that one of the industry’s greats has only been nominated for a Grammy, and his sales have never quite matched his reputation. Astonishingly, his new album is his 20-second studio release since his 1974 debut “Hangin’ Around the Observatory,” and is musically rooted in acoustic blues.

Taj Mahal billed as an opening act?! Yes, this is going to be a doozy of a concert. Quintessential versions of “Fishin’ Blues” and “Corrina” come from his catalog, not to mention his original (and often mislabeled as a traditional song) “She Caught the Katy.” Taj is a two-time Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who has been highly influential to blues and roots music. He’s a master of fingerpicked country-blues guitar and banjo, slide guitar, Southern soul and R&B and reggae music via Hawaii, Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond. He’s also a world-class performer that has always favored downhome musicianship rather than over-the-top showmanship. Just ask his longtime bandmates Kester Smith (drums) and Bill Rich (bass).

Keep your fingers crossed for collaborations.

John Hiatt & The Combo with Taj Mahal Trio, 8 p.m., Tuesday at the Center Theater. $89-$99., 733-4900.

The Knotty doubles the fun

The Knotty Pine will host two killer acts this week: Black Uhuru (Wednesday) and Tony Furtado Band (Friday). When the subject of roots-reggae comes up, you can’t help but think of Black Uhuru (Uhuru is Swahili for “freedom”). Mainstay Derrick “Duckie” Simpson formed the band in 1972 and the band won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1985. They’ve been nominated for a total of six Grammy Awards over the course of 14 full-length albums, seven instrumental dub albums and four live albums.

As of late, Black Uhuru performed in the Broadway musical “Loving the Silent Tears: A New Musical” in L.A., while Las Vegas honored the band for its contribution to the entertainment business by officially calling Aug. 31 “Black Uhuru Day” in the city.

Black Uhuru, 10 p.m., Wednesday at the Knotty Pine in Victor. $20. 208-787-2866.

Tony Furtado’s new release “The Bell” is the first on his own label, Yousayfurtado Records, and he describes the effort as “a very personal journey inspired by the loss of my father, the birth of my son and a few uncontrollable changes in my career.” Per usual, Furtado’s virtuosic instrumental chops are interesting, textured and earthy on the album. The recurring themes of life and death are sung in a laidback manner from the once unwilling vocalist. Production-wise, the set brings to mind Sarah Jarosz’s 2013 release, “Build Me Up From Bones.”

Multi-genre as a multi-instrumentalist, Furtado is equally comfortable picking bluegrass banjo or a rootsy slide guitar. He’ll perform as a trio with bass and drums.

Tony Furtado Band, 10 p.m., Friday at the Knotty Pine in Victor. $10. 208-787-2866. PJH

Aaron Davis is an award-winning singer-songwriter, journalist, multi-instrumentalist, frontman for bands Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, and founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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