Dudley Taft

Delta Riffs, Texas Sagebrush, American Blues

North Carolina Blues


So it's been a year since I moved to Chapel Hill from North Carolina. I lived in Seattle since the summer of 1990. That was the longest I have ever been in one place.

It all started in Washington DC. I was born there back in '66 on the 4th of July. I have absolutely NO memory of DC, since we moved to Cincinnati in '68. I spent my childhood years there in a great stone house on 5 acres. Mostly woods, all hilly. I remember the trees, the plants, the ivy. The swimming hole, the schools, the Big Wheel, the Tony-the-Tiger bowling set. Watching TV on Saturdays – Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, Gomer Pyle, Star Trek.

Then when I was 10, my parents divorced and I moved to Philadelphia with my Mom and my new step-dad. We lived there for 18 months. It was good to be so close to my Grandparents on my Mother's side. "Mother and Daddy W" we called them.

Then we moved to Houston Texas for 18 months. Talk about culture shock. Magnified by the southern twang of Texas "kickers' – cowboy hats, drawling swagger. We had our own swimming pool. In Texas, I discovered the guitar. A friend of mine turned me on to rock 'n' roll. Ted Nugent, Kiss, The Who, Rush, Foghat, ZZ Top! Bell bottom jeans, Gass shoes, strobe lights and fuzzy black light posters. I smoked my first joint and went to Astroworld amusement park. Crazy days. I used to sneak out at night and meet my friends on our bikes and walk around the Houston Galleria mall when it was being built. I wouldn't want my kids doing that these days! My neighbor had a trampoline and a guitar, and I helped wear them both out.

Then in the fall of '79, we moved to Indianapolis. I called it Indianoplace. It seemed so small after Houston. But I found a great guitar teacher, and he showed me scales and barre chords and distortion. But the people were very nice. I made good friends, and had a moped. I was free moving. Those were the days.

For 10th grade, I had the opportunity to go to prep school in Connecticut. I didn't want to go, didn't want to leave my friends, but I knew that very few of us get these kinds of opportunities, so I went. Tore my mom's heart in two.

I was there for three years and got to see New England. Boston, Hartford, NYC. It was cool! I made some great and close friends, got to play lots of music. Saw the Greatful Dead play "St. Stephen" in Hartford. Turned in my homework and even went to class occasionally.

Then out to LA. Well, not really LA, but San Bernadino about 1 hour east. College. I knew I wanted to just play guitar, but thought I ought to get my shit together and learn something. I found sociology and philosophy interesting. I made the dean's list my last few years. After four years there, I moved in to LA, mid-Wilshire area. Lived with the "Dust Brothers" – friends form college. Adam Yauch lived in the same building for awhile. I tried to find a good band, but it was all about the image. I have (had) terrible hair. In the summer of '90 I heard the Mother Love Bone EP, "Apple". It resonated heavily with me. It was REAL music. Wow. I drove up to Seattle and stayed for 2 weeks. It was great, so I moved up there.

So I really have relocated quite a bit. I have kept in touch with my friends from Cincy and Indianapolis. They have a different perspective on life having lived in the same place. They have long lasting deep friendships. But they haven't quite seen all I that I have.

Touring with Sweet Water and Second Coming showed me the other nooks and crannies of the US. I have been in all 50 states. Played gigs in something like 48 of them. Eaten the best and the worst food. City centers and strip malls, movie theaters and coffee shops. Stinky bars and frat houses. Disneyworld and Disneyland. Great intelligence and absolute ignorance. When you get exposed to a good cross-section of people, you realize what works for you and what doesn't.

One thing's for sure, I have moved around a lot. Staying in Seattle for 21 years was a long time. I felt like it was time to turn the page, to start a new chapter. I wanted to show my wife and kids some of the diversity I experienced when I was younger. I also wanted my teenage girls to have their own sink. And Seattle certainly changed a lot since I moved there. It got more crowded and expensive. It's tough to make things work on a musician's wages.

I did some great work in Seattle. Things I am very proud of. I made excellent friends. But at a certain point in the last few years, it seemed like the progress stopped. Sometimes to grow you have to get out of your comfort zone. We only get to be on this planet for a short while, so don't stagnate. "When we stop changing, something in us starts to die" were the words of Leto to his son Paul Atrades in Dune by Frank Herbert. Somehow I always come back to that. BTW, Dune is one of the most creative books of any genre. Go read it.

People ask me why I moved the family. It's hard to answer in one minute.

It's been tough this first year. Though the teenagers have made fast friends and are doing as well in school as they ever have, my wife is homesick. We have a great house – your housing dollar goes A LOT futher here, so we have a great bighouse. 6 bathrooms. Gotta vacuum the closet, mow the yard, pull the weeds, blow the leaves. Twice the size, twice the work.

The trees and creatures are plentiful and there is much more sunshine, so that's nice. We have deer, turtles, frogs, lizards, squirrels, foxes. We spend a lot more time outdoors. Screened porch, volleyball in the yard.

But people have never heard of Dudley Taft, blues/rock guitarist. "Uh, can I play a Wednesday night?" It's tough starting over, but give me a couple more years. There are more markets to play within driving distance than there are in Seattle. I have my work cut out for me.

But the good news is, I have another album finished! Yay. I think you'll dig it. But now the industry has changed. People aren't buying music much anymore – they're streaming it. So now instead of playing shows to promote your album, you're making an album to promote the shows. It's all good. But you may see me release a bunch of singles, THEN an album. That's the new paradigm. The music industry has been slow to change, so part of it is dying. Whatever. I just play the guitar, keep my head down and roll with the changes.

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