The first time I met Brandon Taylor was down in the Delta at the caretaker’s lodge flanked alongside the Baby Doll House near Benoit. Wiry, curly-haired, and soft-spoken, he was visiting river-man Matthew Burdine, who happened to be watching the property for a few days. The two of them wore cowboy hats and toothy necklaces and discussed Neal Cassidy and Jack Kerouac the way Civil War buffs might trade information about the battle of Shiloh or Gettysburg.
In his debut album, Radio Ghost
, Taylor runs the gamut of Americana styles with pedal steel, and Dylan inspired ballads to Deep South crooning and bluegrass. I had a chance to catch up with him to talk about his new album.
Brandon recalls being in fifth grade trying the smorgasbord of musical instruments for a sort of aptitude test for the school band.
“Their recommendation was for clarinet, but I was dead set on playing drums. I never liked to read music or anything like that—I always just wanted to play what I wanted to play.”
As time went by, he realized that most American music was played in 4/4 time and his curiosity drifted towards melody, inspiring him to pick up the guitar.
“The Christmas I got a drum set, my brother got a Sears guitar. He just never learned how to play it, so one summer when I was twelve, I dragged it out from under his bed and started Googling guitar chords.”
On the intro track, “Need a Fix,” Brandon belts out, “Don’t trust the government.” He explained that this was inspired by Edward Snowden. He recalls family members at Thanksgiving talking about how unpatriotic Snowden was to come forward about the extent of NSA surveillance.
“It’s unpatriotic to come forward and say ‘your government is lying to you’?” Taylor asked.
“In that song, it evolved into, well, what else is wrong? We’re always on our phones—we’re more connected than ever, but less connected than ever.”
The album- which was produced by Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell- will be released on Mad Jack Records and features a who’s who of regional musicians. Taylor recorded live duets with Shannon McNally, has Cody Dickinson backing him on drums in “Memphis in the Summer-time,” and Luther Dickinson playing electric guitar on multiple tracks including “Baby Blue” - which sounds like a song straight off of Exile on Main Street.
The album release of Radio Ghost
will feature several opening acts including Kelley Anderson and DJ Andrew McCalla, and of course a live performance by Brandon Taylor and friends. The event will run from 9pm to 12am on Friday, December 9th at Studio 688.