Taj Mahal & the Hula Blues

Hanapepe Dream

Now in his 61st year, Taj Mahal has evolved from his origins as a country-blues musician into a world music artist—long before that phrase became popular. As evidenced by his many records over the past 30 years, Mahal incorporates the musics of the Caribbean, Africa, India, and, most recently, Hawaii. On the Hawaiian numbers here, he’s accompanied by three ukuleles and a pair of guitars (slack-key and steel), with bass and drums on the other songs. A lively calypso piece features some smooth tenor sax while the more traditional blues of “Stagger Lee” and Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” receive rousing reggae interpretations. Next to taking a tour of the islands, this will do quite nicely. A damn fine CD. Look for Mahal on the first episode of PBS’s The Blues series in September.