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Dudley Taft Interview

Tell us the brief history of your band or musical career. I was lucky enough to be in Seattle in 1990 and joined a band called Sweet Water. Our third show as a band we opened for Mookie Blaylock, which became Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains. After that every show we played locally was sold out and then we got a record deal and toured around the US. After that band fell apart, I scored another record label deal with a band called Second Coming, and we were on capitol records signed by Gary Gersch. That was a lot of fun until they fired him and all the bands he signed… After a few years hanging out and not playing much I decided to start my own band and thought it would be fun to play some ZZ Top and Freddie king songs. That eventually turned into my original blues rock brand. That worked out very well for me because I am a student of lead guitar, having grown up in the 70s on such awesome bands as Deep Purple, the Allman Brothers, Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, etc. Who are your musical and non-musical influences? The first song I fell in love with was Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I used to ask my piano teacher to play it for me all the time when I was about five years old, which drove her crazy… But if you think about it, it's a really cool song and somewhat cosmic. So, David Bowie seemed to fit right in with that vibe… Plus David Bowie songs are easy to play on an acoustic guitar at the beach which is nice! Neil Young and Lou Reed were also heavy influences on me as far as songwriting… Lead guitar was certainly a different compartment of my musical life. Tell me about your favorite performance in your career. After all of these years, it is impossible to name a single performance. But there are a few highlights: I got to play Rooster on stage with Alice in chains on a tour in the early 90s… Also, I remember a gig in New Hampshire. We were playing to a very large crowd at a ski resort, and as the sun was setting, we started playing the song Vintage Eyes, which was one of the beter songs that I have written, and to hear the audience singing it out loud was surreal! And now that I am on my own, with no label support or any real team to speak of, things are tougher. When I play a show nowadays, and I announce a song and people yell and clap, it's an amazing feeling because they know my music! These victories are hard-won. I have been doing my original solo band since 2008 and after all these years, it is starting to really pay off and is very gratifying! What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you? Never turn down an opportunity to play with anyone or anywhere. How has your music changed over the years? Doing the blues rock thing has been a lot of fun. At first I think I was trying to fit squarely into the blues category. But now I just write songs and let them find their own way in the world like children. They are all very different, and I have learned that the song is the most important thing and that categories do not matter. So In a way, I think my songwriting has evolved, in a very organic way to be more introspective, autobiographical, and unique. How does your latest album differ from any of your others in the past? It is certainly more autobiographical. Not every song, but most of it. It was fun to go back and relive some of the inspirations I had when I was 12 or 13 years old starting to play guitar. I tried to channel some of that naïve energy into the songs. Tell me what your first music teacher was like. What lessons did you learn from them that you still use today? How would your previous band mates describe you and your work ethic? If you could change anything about the music industry today, what would it be? I think most people would agree that there is not enough revenue for songwriters these days. Streaming and the Internet ruined financial security for a lot of musicians. It's almost as if people expect music to be free! It's tougher to make money right now and I think that will prevent more young artists from giving it a shot. Luckily for me, I am financially secure so I can play as much as I like, even if I don't make money which in a way is kind of sad. What strengths do you have that you believe make you the musician you are? I boldly go where I have almost never gone before! Ha ha ha. I think it's important to let raw inspiration take charge and follow the muse that pops into my head. I don't try to be something that I am not. I'm not a shredder, I'm not a Jazzer, I'm a songwriter who loves lead guitar and I think I have developed my own voice, perhaps through ignorance, perhaps through some sort of luck. I never tried to sound like someone else, though I see the value of learning what others play. But for me that is a uniform from another team. I try to take influences and absorb them, not regurgitate them. Do you have any weaknesses that you're actively working to improve on? I was always the guitar player in the band and not the lead singer. Over the past 15 years, I have learned to be a front-man and to be the lead singer. I work very hard on my singing, trying to be in-tune and appropriate for the song. I think I've come a long way with that. Also I have written songs on the piano, and am working hard on my keyboard skills! Describe your favorite and least favorite part about being a musician. Loading and unloading the gear! What could be worse? Ha ha ha Do you have any anxiety about performing live? Absolutely not! It is always a thrill… Sometimes I do wonder if a new song will work or not. Sometimes they don't! But luckily, there are enough good ones in my catalog that go over well live, so I don't really have to worry too much… Describe your creative process when you write new music. Smoke some pot, close your eyes and listen very closely… After all these years, it's a bit easier for me to translate what I hear in my head to what I play on the guitar and what comes out in the final production of a song… Anything you would like to share, from new merch to upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums? I'm very excited about a European tour I am about to start. I do pretty well over there… Better than in the US. Not sure if that's a cultural thing or not… I also have my first tour of Spain coming up in October and that should be a blast! I'm also working on other territories like France, Austria and Switzerland. Tell us a fun fact about yourself. I like to fly airplanes! Anything Else You Would Like to Include? If you like what you hear, please go to my website and sign up for the Riff Riders exclusive content page! It's got lots of cool stuff in there about my guitars, pedals, songwriting, history and a lot of blogs. Also, don't hesitate to send me a message -- I love hearing from fans!


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