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27 January 2022

Taj Mahal And Ry Cooder Reunite For New Album, ‘Get On Board’

Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder
Abby Ross/Press
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Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder have reunited after a half-century for a new album, Get On Board: The Songs Of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, out 22 April 2022 on Nonesuch.

With Taj Mahal on vocals, harmonica, guitar, and piano and Cooder on vocals, guitar, mandolin, and banjo – joined by Joachim Cooder on drums and bass – the duo recorded 11 songs drawn from recordings and live performances by Terry and McGhee,the blues masters who they both first heard as teenagers in California.

Explaining where Terry and McGhee took him musically, Cooder says, “Down the road, away from Santa Monica. Where everything was good. ‘I have got to get out of here,’ was all I could think. What do you do, fourteen, eighteen years old? I was trapped. But that first record, Get On Board, the 10” on Folkways, was so wonderful, I could understand the guitar playing.”

Taj Mahal adds, “I started hearing them when I was about 19, and I wanted to go to these coffee houses, ‘cause I heard that these old guys were playing. I knew that there was a river out there somewhere that I could get into, and once I got in it, I’d be all right. They brought the whole package for me.”

Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder originally joined forces in 1965, forming The Rising Sons when Cooder was just 17. The band was signed to Columbia Records but an album was not released and the group disbanded a year later. The 60s recording sessions, widely bootlegged, were finally issued officially in 1992. Get On Board is Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder’s first recording together since then.

“We’ve been doing this a while,” Cooder says. “Perhaps we’ve earned the right to bring it back. Taj Mahal concludes. “We’re now the guys that we aspired toward when we were starting out. Here we are now… old timers. What a great opportunity, to really come full circle.”

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