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He was born in Chicago, but Otis Taylor’s blues have little to do with the Windy City’s musical heritage. He plays banjo, mandolin, and cello in addition to the standard guitar and harmonica, and his sound is rooted as deeply in Appalachia as it is the Mississippi Delta. Taylor, who began playing the banjo as a child, is part of a current vogue for exploring the African-American origins of the instrument. But his new album, Recapturing the Banjo, goes a step further: It traces the ax’s full lineage, from the minstrel show to jazz, bluegrass, folk, cabaret, rock ’n’ roll, and blues. Taylor is accompanied by two additional banjoists (Don Vappie and Guy Davis, both noted players on the banjo scene) in his band the Black Banjo Project, bringing both texture and dimension back to an instrument that’s long needed redemption from Deliverance jokes.
OTIS TAYLOR’S BLACK BANJO PROJECT PERFORMS AT 8 P.M. AND 10 P.M. AT BLUES ALLEY, 1073 WISCONSIN AVE. NW. $25. (202) 337-4141.