Monday, June 08, 2009

The Blues and Whisky: Koko Taylor

I wrote this about beer and jazz:

Good beer is like good music: with an introduction, an exposition, and a coda, it tells a story.

Beer raconteur Bob Tupper has his own jazz allusion for beer:
Ale is like "a jazz quartet. Each member goes his own way, but all finish together. A lager, in contrast, is like a string quartet. It is a seamless composition."

But the Blues ... the Blues is a shot of whisky.

In the early 1980s, I became familiar with blues singer Koko Taylor through her recordings: a big, cutting, chainsaw of a voice.

But those recordings did not prepare me for the one time I saw —and heard— Ms. Tayor live at her club in Chicago in 1992, after her successful comeback from health complications. Her take that night on Mannish Boy —I'm a W-O-M-A-N— was so gutsy, so real, so scary, that it was —at the least— the equal of Muddy Waters' male manifesto.

At the time, I was in Chicago studying brewing at the Siebel Institute. But that evening, amazed and thrilled, I had whiskey.

Koko Taylor died Wednesday 3 June 2009 at age 80.

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