From Taj Mahal to Free Harmony
What: Taj Mahal Livestream Series
WHEN: 6pm-9pm, March 13, 20 and 27
Cost: $18-$25; $65-$80 for the series
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Which do you want first, the good news or the not-as-stellar, but-still-not-horrible news?
Hedging bets that people are eager for positive postings during these dark days of the pandemic, I’ll start with the former and ease my way into the latter.
For fans of the legendary blues and roots musician Taj Mahal, a recently announced trio of concerts taking place this month will feature the likes of Fantastic Negrito (pictured), Phantom Blues Band, Jon Cleary, and a number of Taj’s favorite emerging artists. The performances promise to inspire and enlighten and, better yet, a portion of the proceeds will benefit Mount Vernon’s Lincoln Theatre.
In news that’s not unexpected but still carries a sting, the concerts won’t take place at the Lincoln but will instead be livestreamed from the UC Theatre in Berkeley, California. As a musician who’s known for his onstage generosity and global influences, each of the gigs will feature artists whose talents Taj—who is anticipating returning to the Lincoln Theatre for a fall concert—wants everybody else to know about.
The series kicks off at 6pm Sat., March 13 with a full electric set starring Taj, the Phantom Blues Band, and New Orleans-based, Grammy award-winning pianist Jon Cleary. Expect funk and R&B in equal measure, and prepare for a good time. On Sat., March 20, a Roots Rising Showcase will be jam-packed with ascending stars—including Rob Ickes and Trey Hensely, Amethyst Kiah, Annie Mach, Leyla McCalia, Pietmont Bluz Acoustic Duo, Ranky Tanky, Allison Russell, and Jontavious Willis.
Finally, Fantastic Negrito (Xavier Dphrepaulezz) will join Taj for a Sat., March 27 gig being billed as an “all-star multi-generational finale duo collaboration.” As a former winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert and the owner of two Grammy awards for Best Contemporary Blues Album, Fantastic Negrito’s self-described “black roots music for everyone” comes with a fascinating backstory—including a troubled youth, a near-fatal car accident that left him in a coma for three weeks, and a resulting musical rebirth.
The night Taj Mahal and Fantastic Negrito share their considerable talents, a second Virtual Concert Series will also be coming to a close. These livestreams hew closer to home, and features bands who not only make music nearby, but will also be streaming live from Lincoln Theatre’s stage.
Running the same nights as Taj’s livestreams, the 7:30pm virtual gigs will feature raw rock tunes from the Dolts on March 13, retro rock from Skagit Valley’s Fantasy Band on March 20, and original songs and covers spanning the decades by Free Harmony (Chuck Dingee and Sharon Mayson) on March 27. The concerts can be viewed by donation on the venue’s YouTube channel, with a 50/50 split between the performers and the Lincoln Theatre Center Foundation—all of which is decidedly good news.
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