by Allison Duck – Wed, Sep 16, 2009
It’s been more than 25 years since Taj Mahal performed on Bonnie Raitt’s album Takin’ My Time but the friends are back together again to bring the BonTaj Roulet Tour to the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on Friday, September 18. Concertgoers will hear each musician in an individual set, and then the pair will take the stage together for a finale with both Raitt’s and Mahal’s backing bands behind them.
Mary Chapin Carpenter once said a concertgoer asked her if her guitar was a prop. Did you deal with any of this same curiosity about female musicians early in your career?
I got asked about it a lot, especially in the beginning, because it was unusual for a woman to play a bottleneck guitar and play styles of guitar that mostly men were doing… I came out of folk music and all those women were great accompanists. It’s about the song and about accompanying yourself and not about chops. It probably set me apart and helped me in a way. I don’t want to say it was a gimmick, but it was something that was unusual and made people pay attention.
What was it like recording albums for nearly 20 years when you were getting critical praise but not as much commercial success?
Well I had my core following, which I amassed from many, many years of staying out on the road… I was so lucky to get a record deal early on, right out of college. It didn’t really matter to me that I didn’t sell a lot. All I cared about was that my record company, which was Warner Bros. at the time, at least put enough records in the store to cover the people who I just worked hard to play to and win over with my concerts. Sometimes it would be frustrating not to get airplay on the FM stations to the levels of my friends like Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou [Harris] when we were all friends and peers and they all seemed equally good.But wait, there's more!