Who’s the world record setting banjoist with 5 Grammy nominations that you may have never heard of? That’s Spartanburg, South Carolina native Todd Taylor. Having established the Guinness World Record for “fastest banjo player” at 210 beats per minute with the song Dueling Banjos in 2007, and having been awarded the honor of the Order of the Palmetto by SC Governor Nikki Haley earlier this year for his philanthropy and musical contribution to his home state, Todd Taylor is most certainly moving forward.
With the release of Indescribable, a collection of eleven songs from all sorts of directions, including classical, rock, and of course, traditional bluegrass, Taylor is back to spreading the good word of the banjo again, by surging into new areas of music where one might not expect the instrument. With versions of classic rock anthems like Crazy Train, Stairway to Heaven, and his own 5:03 version of Free Bird, it’s easy to say that this is anything but your ordinary banjo album. In fact, listeners might find that Indescribable has the potential to serve well as the soundtrack to a classic tragedy or scary movie – perhaps “Beethoven’s Nightmare” or “Night of the Living Banjo.”
From the very beginning, this album is set apart from other banjo records. Instead of hard-hitting, “1-4-5 drive” numbers, the opening licks to this set are much more rock influenced than anything else. The album’s opening track Six Gun’s (a Taylor original) perfectly demonstrates his desire for musical experimentation, while a much gentler side is shown through Taylor’s second self-penned contribution, Waterfall, the soothing feel of which seems like a good fit for an elevator scene or sleep machine. Other standout tracks include the lighthearted Spanish-themed piece El Cancion del Mariachi and another original, a classical piece appropriately titled Beethoven’s Nightmare.
While it is likely that people who have become aware of Taylor’s work within recent years have done so through his setting of a world record, there’s much more to be found on this album than just fast picking. In fact, Taylor’s performing skills and thoughtfulness as a musician show through in his musical arrangements. Coming from an area which has produced several noteworthy banjo players, Taylor certainly stands out.
He is joined on this album by Mike Moody (bass), Thornton Kline (cello, violin), John Rogers and Frank Griffith (drums), T Bone Johnson (guitars), and Duane Evans (piano). If you’re interested in finding out more about Todd Taylor and his musical work, visit his website at www.toddtaylorbanjo.com.
His music can be purchased from various online music retailers, including CDBaby, Amazon, and iTunes.
About the Author (Author Profile)
John Goad is a graduate of the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program, and is now pursuing a Masters degree in Appalachian Studies at ETSU.
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