By Jenn Watt
Published Jan. 29 2019
Julian Taylor first started playing guitar while staying at Kilcoo Camp as a 10-year-old.
“Kilcoo would have been one of the first places I played the guitar. My cousin loaned me her guitar because I really was interested in folk music” Taylor recalls. “At home I listened to jazz and R&B and soul and that stuff but when I got to school I found that a lot of the kids were listening to other things. My upbringing and space was different than theirs. They were listening to rock and roll and folk music.”
He learned to play “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan.
Although his father was a classical pianist Julian was drawn to the instrument that allowed him to easily move from one locale to the next.
“I remember a friend of mine at Kilcoo teaching me some chords and learning that song and then playing it at the campfire. I told my dad playing guitar was the way I wanted to go because you can’t bring a piano to a party unless there’s one there and that was it.”
Three decades later Taylor not only brings the guitar to the party he brings the whole band.
On Saturday Feb. 9 the Julian Taylor Band will be performing at the Haliburton Legion bringing their eclectic menu of music to the Haliburton County Folk Society concert.
Six members of the band will be performing: sax keyboard guitar bass drums and vocals.
Sue Shikaze an organizer from the folk society said the concert’s been in the works since 2017.
“Julian has been on our wish list of artists for a few years. He has a foot in the folk world as he has been a regular attendee at the annual Folk Music Ontario conference and some of our committee members have seen him perform there acoustically” she said via email.
“We decided we wanted to include a concert/dance in this season’s concert line up and his band was at the top of the list. We thought it would be the perfect event for February – dance away the mid-winter blues! We also wanted an act that would appeal to a bit younger of an audience in addition to our usual crowd. I think they fit the bill perfectly.”
Taylor said the band’s smorgasbord of sound comes partially from the rich cultural mosaic of Toronto and partially from the band members’ musical backgrounds.
“An author here in Toronto … Robert Priest the poet said I’m not necessarily a revivalist but a revisionist taking flavours of songs and genres and moments of my life literature and all that and combining it into something fresh and new” he said.
There are elements of many genres in the music they create from blues and country to rock and jazz.
“I come from a family that migrated here from the Caribbean – that’s my dad’s side of the family. They came from all over the Caribbean. My dad was born in Antigua … then my mom’s family is from here – they’re Indigenous; they’re Mohawk” Taylor said.
Both Caribbean and Mohawk cultures have strong oral traditions anchored in the importance of storytelling which has influenced his song writing.
“Folk music and folklore become very important to both of those cultures which really in the sense of the word turns into Americana” he said.
The Julian Taylor Band is the second musical incarnation for Taylor who was part of Staggered Crossing a Canadian roots rock band active between 1996 and 2007.
Taylor said he’s learned to see the world from multiple viewpoints through music. He said he tries to get people to be open to all genres. He chuckles when he remembers times he’s surprised audiences with the breadth of his repertoire switching from Bob Marley to Garth Brooks or Johnny Cash.
“What I’ve been trying to do with my music is stop people from listening with their eyes. Just enjoy it it’s music” he said.
When his band plays in Haliburton Taylor said his first priority is to create an atmosphere where people can relax.
“I hope that they come and number one enjoy themselves and have a time to let loose to dance a little bit to think a little bit to cry to laugh” he said.
The Julian Taylor Band will be performing at the Haliburton Legion on Saturday Feb. 9. Doors open at 7 p.m. show starts at 7:30. Special guests: Benton Brown and Nick Russell. You can buy tickets at Organic Times in Minden or The Source in Haliburton or by going online at www.haliburtonfolk.com/concert-series.html. Tickets are $30 each.